From time to time we all feel stuck. We feel the weight of the world bearing down on us, suffocating us. This sinking feeling can be paralytic and we seemingly just can’t figure out how to pull ourselves out from the infinite void of our own self-defeating thoughts. I am here to tell you that this feeling is okay and that there is always light at the end of the tunnel. When I find myself feeling like I am lost in the dark void and I am having trouble finding that light, I try to turn to the light of others for the radiance that I cannot find within myself. It is often in literature that I am able to stand on the shoulders of others to help myself see the glow in the distance. No matter how faint in the beginning, as I proceed though certain boos and texts, the dim eventually becomes bright and the murky becomes clear. I feel as though a weight gets lifted as clarity of thought and hope is found. If you ever wanted to give reading a shot to help you on your mental journey, here are some suggestions depending on your situation:
1. Atlas of the Heart by Brene Brown
- What it’s about: Thanks to a popular Pixar film, we all know the basics of emotions: Joy, Disgust, Sadness, Fear, and Anger. I’ve gone through most of my life using these 5 emotions as my entire emotional vocabulary. In her book, Brene Brown explains the definitions of, distinctions between, and use cases for 87 different emotions. In doing so she gives us the vocabulary needed to explore the complex world that is our emotions.
- Who it's for: Anyone starting their mental health journey and explorations into their own emotions. I think that before we can ever begin to explore how we feel and why we are feeling that way, we need the proper tools and vocabulary to accurately decipher the mystery that is our psyche.
- Memorable quote from the book: “Choosing to be curious is choosing to be vulnerable because it requires us to surrender to uncertainty. We have to ask questions, admit to not knowing, risk being told that we shouldn't be asking, and, sometimes, make discoveries that lead to discomfort.”
2. How to Do Nothing byJenny Odell
- What it’s about: In today’s society of constant stimuli via the attention economy, Jenny Odell argues that stillness is what we need. Stillness however, is not to be confused with laziness. It is simply the idea that we need to take control and refocus our meandering minds. We need to rewrite what we understand as our identity and understand the roles that social media and other external pressures play in shaping those identities. It also instructs how to distance ourselves from those false-identities and let creativity and curiosity drive a new self-image through mindfulness.
- Who it's for: This is for people that feel that they are not doing enough while simultaneously feeling drastically over committed. For people that have self diagnosed ADHD and feel that their attention is split between too many things.
- Memorable quote from the book: “Our very idea of productivity is premised on the idea of producing something new, whereas we do not tend to see maintenance and care as productive in the same way.”
3. The Power of Habits by Charles Duhigg
- What it’s about: You probably know what a habit is. You probably can identify a few of your own habits, good and bad. You also probably have the desire to either stop some bad habits or develop some new good. Charles Duhigg breaks down the steps of how habits are established, why we are more likely to keep certain ones over others, as well as teaches the tools of creating lasting new habits and changing old bad habits.
- Who it's for: Someone who is struggling with maintaining good habits or having trouble with changing some bad habits. If you feel stuck and feel like you’re not developing in a way that you want to, and feel like some new habits will help you make some progress, this book is a great place to start.
- Memorable quote from the book: “Habits are powerful, but delicate. They can emerge outside our consciousness, or can be deliberately designed. They often occur without our permission, but can be reshaped by fiddling with their parts. They shape our lives far more than we realize—they are so strong, in fact, that they cause our brains to cling to them at the exclusion of all else, including common sense.”
4. Lab Rats by Dan Lyons
- What it’s about: This book aims to distill how happiness in employees = profits for bosses and how those concepts can coexist. It also takes a look at different business practices around the world and observes how work became such a miserable place for a lot of people. Lyons takes a look at how VC and silicon valley culture and its practices have affected the greater national and global workplace environment.
- Who it's for: If you are feeling defeated in the workplace or are a manager of a team and feel like morale is down, this book might give you some insight as to how you can get more out of the workplace and feel a little more fulfilled. You also can gather a sense that we are not alone in the rat race of the corporate world as well as feel a little more empowered about being the change we want to see in our own corporate setting.
- Memorable quote from the book: “We can’t just fix the workplace. We need to fix capitalism itself—and not just by making a few small tweaks at the edges. The whole system needs a major, fundamental reboot.”
5. The Art of Happiness by Dalai Lama and Dr. Howard Cutler
- What it’s about: Coming from a buddhist perspective, the Dalai Lama brings a theory that links suffering and unhappiness to greed, ego, and lack of mindfulness. Dr. Cutler utilizes interviews with the Dalai Lama to support his thesis which strives to show how happiness can be maintained by a certain level of mindfulness and spirituality. Through the Dalai Lama’s anecdotes and teachings, you can lay yourself a path towards a little happier life everyday.
- Who it's for: This book is for folks who dabble in the spirituality of life and want a perspective on the origins of happiness based in self-practice. It is for people who are looking to strive for happiness practices in which they can look inward and apply to the trials of everyday life causing unhappiness.
- Memorable quote from the book: “In identifying one’s mental state as the prime factor in achieving happiness, of course that doesn’t deny that our basic physical needs for food, clothing, and shelter must be met. But once these basic needs are met, the message is clear: we don’t need more money, we don’t need greater success or fame, we don’t need the perfect body or even the perfect mate—right now, at this very moment, we have a mind, which is all the basic equipment we need to achieve complete happiness.”
6. The Power of Letting Go by John Purkiss
- What it’s about: The title says it all. This book is about letting go, letting go of who we are, letting go of the things we want, letting go of everything. It is within a lot of false truths that we hold, that pain and mental suffering exist. John Purkiss walks you through exercises and lessons on how the process of letting go throughout his book. There’s so much
- Who it's for: This book is for someone who wants to be more present in their thoughts. Someone who worries too much about the future and reflects too much on the past. It is for that person who knows what intentional presence is, but lacks the tools to access that state of being.
- Memorable quote from the book: “Thoughts and feelings are like images which are projected onto the screen. We get so caught up in the thoughts and feelings that we forget about the screen. If someone switches off the projector, we notice the screen again.”
7. Broke Millennial by Erin Lowry
- What it’s about: This book helps to identify and combat the financial issues facing adults in their 20s and 30s. Many people in their 20’s and 30’s find money and financial talks to be stressful and confusing, and this book helps to debunk and demystify the topic for young adults.. We live in a capitalistic society and need to have a grasp on certain financial terms and systems, but it can all be overwhelming and ignorance may seem like an easier choice at times. The book aims to remove the taboo stigma that surround financial discussions so that we can all work to be more open and less stressed about the topic.
- Who it's for: People who view finances as a main source of anxiety in their life and feel as though they are lost in the world of capitalism. If you feel behind where you want to be in your financial goals or feel like money is overly taboo in your life, this book will help you uncover the tools to have a productive conversation about money within yourself, as well as those around you.
- Memorable quote from the book: “No one wanted to touch the subject, even while wearing a hazmat suit. But not only was this fear keeping my friends from trying to understand how money worked; it was also preventing them from taking risks to get ahead in their careers and even perpetuating the deadly cycle of living from paycheck to paycheck with no plan for the future.As I thought about this, I wondered, Why don’t I feel the same way? Am I missing something?”
8. Think Again by Adam Grant
- What it’s about: People seem to always think they’re right. We always are seeking constant validation in the way we think and want to be reaffirmed in our beliefs. This tends to lead to confirmation biases that drive us further and further into our own corners and causes us to dig our heels into our own perspectives and creates separation and distance from those whose beliefs differ from our own. In this book, Adam Grant looks to train our minds to consider other perspectives to open our minds and find common ground in order to provide a safe place for productive discourse to ensue.
- Who it's for: If you identify as a know it all or are told that you are a stubborn person. This book might help you broaden your horizons and help you become a little more open minded to opinions that are different than your own. Or if you are someone who is looking to become even more open-minded and want to explore new techniques on how to leverage an amenable state to help convey a certain feeling or perspective, this book will help you with that as well.
- Memorable quote from the book: “If knowledge is power, knowing what we don’t know is wisdom.”
If you are just starting out on your mental-health journey, I hope that some of these books may help give you some places to start in thinking about why we feel or think the way that we do. If you are deep in your mental health exploration, I hope that some of these books may help give you a new perspective or insight to help you continue your journey. I hope it is within these pages that something will inspire you and help you on your journey. We are all on this journey and are just looking to make it marginally more happy. Go forth and conquer.
"Blue Eye Samurai" creators hope viewers can appreciate Japanese culture in Netflix’s newest adult animated series
The series, which premiered on Netflix on November 3rd and stars PEN15's Maya Erskine, is the story of a mixed-race, female sword master’s revenge set in Edo-period Japan.Read More >>