About ten years ago, I was in a really crappy place.
It all stemmed from a breakup. In hindsight, my period of struggling with depression and anxiety was brief – a few months, compared to those who spend their whole lives fighting feelings of sadness, worry, loneliness, the list goes on. But it was one of those seasons of my life that shaped who I am today. It was that season that propelled me into finishing my degree at Tennessee and pursuing my dreams of being a music journalist in Nashville.
Despite how awful those few months were, I’m grateful for them. I needed the tough times to prepare me for better times. Isn’t that how it works? Coal has to go through a period of pressure to become a diamond?
This season of my life was around the time The Secret was everywhere. There were stories on the news about it. Articles in every newspaper, on every blog. Oprah wouldn’t shut up about it.
I got curious.
A book that would tell me how to have the best life ever? Sign me up.
I had maybe $20 in my bank account when I went to Barnes & Nobel to pick up the book. It was the day before payday, so I gambled on whether I would need my limited cash between then and when my direct deposit hit the next morning. I bought a copy of the book, went home, and read it cover to cover.
I proceeded to put it’s teachings into motion. I made a list of everything I was grateful for. I recited that list every morning while getting ready for the day, and read over it every night before bed. I wrote down intentions, made a vision board… On it went.
And you know what?
I got happy again. I stopped moping around and started doing life. I went from vegging out in my bedroom, watching episodes of Grey’s Anatomy, to re-enrolling in night and online classes and working towards a goal with an intensity I had long ago lost, if I ever even had it.
That vision board? It had things on it like photos of Nashville, a college degree, the type of apartment I wanted to live in, a credit card, and the type of car I wanted to drive. I found a photo of it a few years later and realized I had achieved everything on it. I’m still not married to Jake Owen (he was my celebrity crush at the time and you’re supposed to dream big and nothing is impossible, so…), but for the most part, if it was on that cheap cork board, it happened..
And for what it’s worth, I met and interviewed Jake Owen.
The Universe, y’all.
I’m going to dive more into these topics in the coming weeks – and probably sound pretty hippy dippy to some of you while I’m at it – but I believe finding The Secret helped me out of a dark place, and pushed me towards reaffirming my faith. It brought Matthew 7:7 to me: Ask and it will be given to you; seek and you will find; knock and the door will be opened to you, and I have stood on it ever since, sometimes a little more steady than others.
The Secret led me to other books and tools. I wanted to share some of my favorite self-help books with you, should you be interested. Some of my favorite self-help books are Christian-based. Some are practice based, full of worksheets and assignments. And some are simply “good vibes” based. You may love one and hate the next. But, here they are.
Frankly, I think The Alchemist should be required reading. It’s an easy read – some even call it childlike – that tells the story of Santiago, an Andalusian shepherd boy, who learns to follow his intuition to find riches more valuable than anything he had ever dreamed of. There are so many wonderful quotes from it, but this is one of my favorites:
“And, when you want something, all the universe conspires in helping you to achieve it.”
Fine. Because there are so many, one more favorite for the road:
“Don’t give in to your fears. If you do, you won’t be able to talk to your heart.”
I’m a huge fan of Gabby Bernstein. I’ve read nearly all of her books. Add More ~Ing To Your Life is the first book after The Secret that really struck a note with me. It’s not Gabby’s strongest book, exactly – she gets better with each book – but she breaks down the idea of the Law of Attraction and living a more positive, love-filled life in a simple way that’s great for someone just beginning to explore some of these concepts.
The Universe Has Your Back is another Gabby book, and it’s my favorite by her. I read it last summer, by the pool, over the course of a weekend. It dives more into changing fear to faith, something I really struggle with. Gabby also provides exercises to put some of her teachings into motion. It’s a practical book that I really connected with.
You Are A Badass and You Are A Badass At Making Money – Jen Sincero
I read both of these Jen Sincero’s books over the last six months. I read You Are A Badass in the early fall, and just finished You Are A Badass At Making Money on the flight to Iceland last week. Both really hit me in the feels, if you will, and inspired me. They are similar to one another, but different enough that I feel both are valuable.
Uninvited is the book I want to give every single person I love, young, old, male, female, and everyone in between. I’ve mentioned that 2017 was a year of “no” for me. This book, which hones in on rejection, was exactly what my soul needed when I read it. It’s one of the more Christian-based books, but it is still about the concept of having faith in God, the universe, whatever you believe in.
I first heard of The Desire Map about three years ago. I bought it about a year later, and it sat on my shelf collecting dust until a few months ago. Once I picked it up, I couldn’t put it down. I read through the first half of the book – which is basically the theory behind feelings and intentions – and I’m now working through the second half, which is a workbook. If you’re looking to find your “why,” this is a great book.
Did I mention that you should read The Alchemist? You really, really should read The Alchemist.
The next self-help book on my to read list is Gabby Bernstein’s latest, Judgement Detox. I’m also going to give Elizabeth Gilbert’s Big Magic another try. I made it about a quarter of the way through it before giving up on it over the summer. Maybe I’ll like it more the second time around?
Have you read any of these books? Any self-help books not on my list that you think I would love? Let me know!