No BS “Self-help” Books: Michelle’s review
Self-Help Books. Some say the self-improvement section at your local bookstore is rock bottom but as self-help becomes the latest trend, so does the multitude of books on how-to-do-life. My lovely intern, Michelle, a sophomore studying psychology at Emory University is taking her swing at some posts for the site. This one is one of my personal favorites! Without further ado...
Here are the ones worth reading:
How to Meditate: A Practical Guide to Making Friends with Your Mind by Pema Chodron
Review: Each chapter was short and left me with something to consider applying to my practice (eyes open, standing, etc.) This book rekindled my interest in meditation as more of a hobby than a chore. It reassured me that there truly are no meditation experts.
- Teaches you how to meditate without making you feel stupid
- Reminds you that the mind wanders no matter what and it’s not attainable to expect no distractions
- Made me *almost entirely* prefer being present to fantasizing and daydreaming
- Demonstrates how to separate yourself from your thoughts
Read this when: you have just about given up on meditating because “it’s just not for me.”
The BIG Picture: A Guide to Finding Your Purpose in Life by Christine B. Whelan
Review: This book is unlike any other self-help book, considering Christine Whelan literally wrote her dissertation on the self-help industry. She knows alllll about personal improvement and introduces the best ways for people to address the most intimidating questions regarding one’s passion, purpose, and happiness. Whelan will help you “create the life you want by making conscious choices about what’s meaningful to you.”
Read this when:
- You are approaching your 20s or 30s
- You are thinking about switching careers
- You are in some sort of unplanned situation and don’t know how to go on
- You feel stuck in life
- Or you just want to live more purposefully
You Are A Badass by Jen Sincero
Review: 5/5 stars helps you make the switch from excessive planning to execution and doing the hard work to change your life “with the tenacity of a dateless cheerleader a week before prom”
Jen Sincero wrote this because she “read every self-help book under the sun,” and still felt just as lost.
Read this if: you cringe at the word “self-help” and make fun of “that girl” TikToks. This book may be your best bet if you want an entertaining guide to getting your shit together WITHOUT becoming one of those stuck-up people that wakes up at 5:30 am and doesn’t shut up about it.
As a certified shit talker, I was not excited about the gratitude mindset, but the way Sincero puts it, gratitude is important for two reasons. For one, gratitude raises your frequency and makes you actually enjoy the little things in life. Second of all, this high frequency will help you attract even better things that align with your higher self (so you can get out of your depressed funk)! Also, I realized that it is just really exciting to imagine everything you want approaching you.
Calm the F*ck Down by Sarah Knight
Review: I appreciated Sarah Knight’s granular openness about her past unproductive coping mechanisms and mental illness history. Since most people who choose to read this kind of book also likely struggle with counterproductive coping mechanisms and/or a mental illness, it is nice to have the insights given by someone qualified to help us calm the fuck down. Because after all, someone who has always had productive coping mechanisms and never struggled with mental illnesses won’t offer any profound insight on decision-making or problem-solving for the Type A panickers and worrywarts of the world.
Read this when: it hasn’t been your day, your week, your month, or even your year. This book will help you learn to acknowledge and accept what you cannot control, and address what is in control, so you can figure out how to get through the day.
At the end of the day, you could have read every single self-help book or you could have read none. Even if you read them all, you’re not better off unless you apply these lessons and do the things the books encourage you to do. Read these so that you can live like someone who wrote this kind of book. Who cares what your “purpose” is?? Just start somewhere. The biggest mistake you can make is not giving yourself a try.