Personal development books (or as they are shamefully called “self-help” books) tend to get a bad rap. Visions of sad people conspicuously browsing the self-help aisle in your local bookstore tend to come to mind. To be caught in the self-help aisle is to admit some sort of failure.
For me, this aisle is full of valuable treasures. Each book is potentially filled with the wisdom needed to boost self-confidence, find motivation or discover what truly matters. If I could, I would wander up and down that aisle all day because why should we deny ourselves the chance to learn more about how to grow deeper into our values by discovering the why of it all.
Every year I read a selection of personal development books. Some are new, some are old. Some are discovered by endlessly scrolling through Amazon, others have been suggested by people I admire in real life or my favorite podcasts.
Last year, I read a total of 10 books on the subject of personal development and all of them made an impression. As we begin in 2019, I wanted to highlight the three books that have stuck with me and some of the lessons I learned.
Shauna Niequist’s book was the first book I read last year. It was a Christmas present I picked out, knowing it had been a notable personal development book in 2017. When I think back on reading this book, I feel as if I am being covered by a warm, fluffy blanket that understands how hectic life can get especially when you are fraught with figuring out what you believe in and how you inculcate those values into your daily life.
Niequist’s journey from busy career women to slow and steady enjoyer of life while privileged was ultimately admirable. It was a great lesson on how to listen to our mind and body as they send us signals that something is wrong. To correct the path toward alignment means giving ourselves the mental and physical stability to give our energy to what truly matters. This book also helped me realize a lack of spiritual guidance in my own life which will be interesting concept to explore in my coming years.
Money is frightening. It’s one of the least discussed topics and yet, it rules almost all of our daily lives. Jen Sincero’s book is about how our money mindset dictates how we approach our financial situation and life. This matter of a money mindset is not an abstraction I’ve ever considered, but oh boy do I have one. This book delighted me because it helped me realize money mindsets affect nearly every facet of our selves and most importantly, our ability to dream big. The words “scarcity” and “abundance” took on new meaning and made me realize the bigger picture: money creates fear and when we face our fears, our ability to grow is endless.
How I came to read this book, might be one of the reasons its stuck with me. Last year, in the middle of my first experience with depression, I sought out the services of a life coach. She was the perfect blend of spiritual and entrepreneurial and her help was more than healing. During our first meeting, we discussed some logistical items and one of those items was an assignment to read Big Magic.
The best part, the book was already in the mail. I had ordered it the week before in a round of desperate online shopping. It was fate. I love this story because it also matches my biggest takeaway from the book: the ideas that come to us are fated to be carried out by us and if we don’t nurture them, we will lose them to someone else. ElizabethGilbert brings ideas to life (such as the topic of a book) by characterizing them as wisps that are floating all around us searching for the perfect host. When an idea pops into your head, its meant to be, it has chosen you. This magical concept has led me to take my ideas seriously, lest I lose them.
In total, I read fifty-two books last year. A goal I never thought I would accomplish. In this whirlwind of pages from fiction, non-fiction and self-help books, these three stand out because they latched onto a set of values that already reside within me.
I know I want a slow and thoughtful life. I know I want to make money and fear it less. I know I want to be creative every single day. These books highlighted those values and taught me how to pursue them in my everyday life by showing me how others have struggled and succeeded in bringing about those values in their own lives.
What have you learned from your favorite self-help books last year?
Janessa is a wellness enthusiast who loves helping other people become the best version of themselves. She believes we all deserve to be in alignment with our true passions. When she isn’t listening to true crime podcasts, Janessa is reading every book in the personal development aisle, brainstorming workshops that promote introspection and intention setting or growing her product photography business. Say hello to her on Instagram at @janessajax