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Empowering books to help improve your happiness, mental health and general well-being

Albert Einstein once said that there are only two ways to live your life. The first is as though nothing is a miracle. The second is as though everything is a miracle. Ever since I heard this phrase, I've thought about it often, as it reminds me that life is a wonderful miracle and that we should all be grateful, appreciative, and happy with how much we are provided with and given every day.

Like a lot of students, a couple of years ago, I found myself in a bit of a rut. I seldom lived for the present moment. I was forever looking forward to the weekend, wishing my mundane work-week away for the moment I could lose myself in the hedonism and excitement of the weekend. In the process, I was destroying my body, my dignity and my bank account on a weekly basis. I felt as though the lifestyle was a part of my identity, and so it was difficult for me to shake loose. When I look back, it seems crazy that I was so nonchalant to my unhealthy and destructive lifestyle. Although it took me a good while to get to where I feel I am today, I can confidently say that it was the small steps like reading self-help books which paved the way to the significant changes I see in my life every day. In my quest to change my destructive habits, I turned to books which can help anyone who feels unsatisfied with their life or their decisions. The books I am to mention can enrich your life by helping you to feel more calm, peaceful, focused and happy in a world of noise and distractions. I'm not suggesting that there is an algorithm for happiness, which can be boxed up neatly and put into a book, as it's not that simple. What I am saying is that each of these books, in their own individual right, can help you learn about how to control any demons you have in your mind and encourage you to make any much-needed changes to make your life happier and more fulfilling.

1. The Power of Now: A Guide to Spiritual Enlightenment by Echart Tolle

"All true artists, whether they know it or not, create from a place of no-mind, from inner stillness."

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Good morning and Happy Sunday, Finished my first book of 2018. "The Power of Now" was an excellent read. Highlights from the book: |The Joy of Being -- When you act out of present-moment awareness, whatever you do becomes imbued with a sense of quality, care, and love - even the most simple action. The moment your attention turns to the NOW, you feel a presence, a stillness, a peace. Love, joy, and peace cannot flourish until you have freed yourself from mind dominance.| Worth every of my coins. This is definitely a material I would reread and highly recommend for you to read if you're a bookworm like myself. Lol • • • • #firstbookoftheyear #thepowerofnow #addedtomybookcollection #bookshare #bookworm

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The Power of Now is at the top of this list as it's the first book regarding 'spirituality' I picked up and possibly one of the most powerful. Echart has a simple message: that we are not our thoughts, and that the present moment is all we really have. The fact that we are able to objectively observe our thoughts can enable us to realise that the often negative dialogue in our heads is separate from who we really are. When you focus your attention to these notions, you find yourself becoming more happy and productive, and worrying less about silly mistakes you have made or may make. The book takes you through a series of questions which Echart has received throughout his time as a world-class spiritual teacher.  The information provided by the answers to these common questions are direct, to-the-point and easily digestible in order for you to quickly and efficiently learn to live in the present moment rather than dwelling on the past or looking too far ahead into the future. If you are looking for a book to help silence the demons and dark thoughts that swarm around in your mind, then this is a great starter-book for you to find the 'off button', and start living in the present moment. As Tolle claims in the book, "love, joy and peace cannot flourish until you have freed yourself from mind dominance".

2. Tao Te Ching by Lao Tzu

“Simplicity, patience, compassion.
These three are your greatest treasures.
Simple in actions and thoughts, you return to the source of being.
Patient with both friends and enemies,
you accord with the way things are.
Compassionate toward yourself,
you reconcile all beings in the world.” 

To put it in a nutshell, this book is about wisdom, and the moral lessons we can learn and empower ourselves with in order to improve who we are and what we stand for. The word 'Te' translates as "strength", which lies always in Tao, which means "natural law" - this can be interpreted to simply be. The mystery surrounding this book is fascinating: the contents and history both have an element of vagueness as it is unclear when the text was actually written. It is estimated to have been around 3-4th century BC by Lao Tzu, whose life is also quite ambiguous. Having been first translated in the late 1700's, the book has now been translated more times than any work except the Bible. The book is a simple and easy read and delves into topics such as ethics, philosophy and religion. Lao Tzu's influence has become a philosophy in itself - the notion of Taoism is Chinese philosophy that advocates simplicity and selflessness and teaches that people should live simply and honestly and not impede with the course of natural events. Tzu's work has helped millions of people to encourage peacefulness, simplicity and humility into their lives. This will be a book which will be a constant source of light you can look back to when you are feeling down about anything to remind yourself of who you are and why you may be here.

3. Big Magic: Creative Living Beyond Fear, by Elizabeth Gilbert

“Recognising that people's reactions don't belong to you is the only sane way to create. If people enjoy what you've created, terrific. If people ignore what you've created, too bad. If people misunderstand what you've created, don't sweat it. And what if people absolutely hate what you've created? What if people attack you with savage vitriol, and insult your intelligence, and malign your motives, and drag your good name through the mud? Just smile sweetly and suggest - as politely as you possibly can - that they go make their own fucking art. Then stubbornly continue making yours.”  

Written by award-winning writer Elizabeth Gilbert, who also penned #1 bestseller Eat, Pray, Love, Big Magic has picked up quite the attention from many bloggers and YouTubers alike. And for good reason -  Gilbert encourages honest discussion about the creative process in a lighthearted and playful tone, helping to banish unrealistic expectations attached to ideas of artistry and "creative living". It is often fear of failure which stops us from creating —  whatever this may be, perhaps art, music, photography — and Gilbert encourages us to instead focus on the inclinations and ideas we generate and put them into action. This is a message I, and I'm sure so many other people really need to hear when you begin to question yourself and your own capabilities. In simple words: this book encourages everyone and anyone to create. Whatever you're interested in, do it. Whatever your soul and heart are telling you to do, do it. Accept that this inner voice telling you to pick something up and do it, this is a part of you, the creative part of you which is alive and breathing. The creative side of you is waiting to emerge and may come out in surprising ways. If you focus your attention on how happy you will feel after your inner creativity has emerged into a physical entity, then you will focus less on how it will be received. All in all, this book is about owning it. Owning who you are, and owning what you want to do with that. As Gilbert wisely states, “Do whatever brings you to life, then. Follow your own fascinations, obsessions, and compulsions. Trust them. Create whatever causes a revolution in your heart.”

4. Recovery by Russell Brand

“We have been taught that freedom is the freedom to pursue our petty, trivial desires. Real freedom is freedom from our petty, trivial desires."

Chapter 7? #Recovery

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Russell Brand is a controversial character. He's been criticised, mocked and called a down-right hypocrite for his sometimes pious decisions. Yet, it cannot be denied that the man continues to impart his endless wisdom and knowledge to the world in order to create a more compassionate and caring society, particularly for minority groups. In his ninth book, Recovery, Brand confronts his own addictions, such as heroin, alcohol, sex, and food, and how he has paved his way to recovery. After having not touched alcohol or drugs for fifteen years now, his own self-realisations have enabled him to discuss with the world how to make their own first steps into recovery. Formed into 12 different steps, Brand encourages you to answer different questions, which range from 'Are you a bit fucked?' to 'Are you, on your own, going to unfuck yourself?'. The playful humour is evident here, as is evident in all of Brand's works. If you're unable to purchase the book, you can read about the 12 steps for free here.

5. Everything that Remains: A Memoir by Minimalists by Joshua Fields Millburn and Ryan Nicodemus

"When I got rid of the majority of my possessions, I was forced to confront my darker side, compelled to ask questions I wasn’t prepared for: When did I give so much meaning to material possessions? What is truly important in life? Why am I discontented? Who is the person I want to become? How will I define my own success?” 

Although I haven't got round to reading this book yet, the documentary which followed its release was a prophetic and enlightening experience which completely transformed my life. I had heard of the word 'minimalism' before, and have always been interested in ideas of living a more simple and uncomplicated life. The philosophy behind minimalism is not just about reducing the amount of physical things that clutter our spaces - it's about appreciation, it's about gratitude, and living deliberately, which is something we can incorporate into every detail of our life, whether this is physical or abstract. The novelists, Joshua Fields Millburn and Ryan Nicodemus, both quit their corporate jobs in order to pursue a life of simplicity, where they can carry all of their belongings within a bag on their backs. Although this is the extremity of minimalism, small changes can be made in your life in order for your life to be richer and happier. When we place less emphasis on our material possessions, we spend less time worrying about these things, and as a result, have more satisfying relationships with those around us and ourselves. For example, when you make a conscious effort to buy less unnecessary clothes and funding the fast fashion industry, you will be left with more money and will place less emphasis on your appearance and begin to only purchase clothes when you know they will last you for a long time and will add value to your life. This is the principle notion - ask yourself, before you buy something, will this add value to my life? Do I really need this? If the answer is no, then you might be better off not purchasing it. It can be destructive to your well-being to rely on material possessions to form your identity. Once you realise this, you can be on your way to a simpler, more happy life.  Look at it like this: “Love people, use things. The opposite doesn’t work.” 

6. The Power of Vulnerability: Teachings of Authenticity, Connections and Courage by Brené Brown

“How much we know ourselves is extremely important but how we treat ourselves is the most important.” 

"Choose discomfort over resentment" - one of Brene Browns mantras that really stuck with me from listening to this audio. How many times do you say yes to someone because it's easier???(guilty ??‍♀️)...when you know you don't want to go on that date or go to that event because you are exhausted but in that moment it's easier to say 'yes' than have an awkward or difficult conversation. Full well knowing you will absolutely resent the fact you are there when you don't want to be. Or on the flip side there are times we really want to say yes to those new experiences or people but out of fear (I.e what will people think, what if they don't like me?) we choose comfort and say no. Thought ? of the day. So here's to choosing discomfort over resentment this year??#change #brenebrown #settingboundaries #thepowerofvulnerability #personaldevelopment #growth #practice #mindset #authenticity #thoughtoftheday

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"In our culture", claims Dr Brené Brown, we associate vulnerability with emotions we want to avoid such as fear, shame, and uncertainty. Yet we too often lose sight of the fact that vulnerability is also the birthplace of joy, belonging, creativity, authenticity, and love.” In this book, Brown suggests that allowing yourself to feel vulnerable is what can lead you to experiences which can bring purpose and meaning into your life. In life, allowing yourself to be vulnerable can be a really scary thing. For example, when you start to fall in love with someone, it can feel like the most terrifying thing ever as you allow yourself to become vulnerable to this person as they dictate a large part of the happiness you receive in your life. But allowing yourself to let your guard down, and be open to the new experiences that you will have with this person is what may lead you to a happier and richer life. So, you begin to act out of love, rather than with fear. When we dwell on potential disappointment, we act with a shield of mistrust and scepticism which can stop you from feeling willing to love and feel joy.  As Brown says, In my research,” Dr Brown says, “the word I use to describe people who can live from a place of vulnerability is wholehearted. Allowing yourself to become vulnerable to life and love will allow you to live life with a fuller potential. 

7. How Not To Die: Discover the Foods Scientifically Proven to Prevent and Reverse Disease

“Mother Nature’s powers cannot be stuffed into a pill.” 

Regrann from @define.withgabs - Not too sure how to feel about this, however going to give it a try!.. I mean the book, not the matcha-Im always sure tbout that?... Starting off the week with this just because i absolutely love learning things about the body, not to jump on the 'hype'of it. Our body is our only real home throughout life, so why not discover and look after it as much as you can? . Happy Matcha Monday . . . . . #exercise #matcha #greentea #fitnessaddict #fitnessmodel #strong #cardio #weightloss #muscle #abs #getfit #cleaneating #determination #instafit #gymlife #nutrition #hownottodie #wellness #fitnessmotivation #matchalatte #gains #active #instahealth #transformation #fitlife #healthychoices #matchatea #dedication #train #matchalover

A post shared by LauraBee #hownottodiebookclub (@hownottodiebookclub) on

Feeling healthy and happy comes from within. This means that the foods that you are putting into your body can directly reflect and influence the way you will feel that day. A very large body of evidence that now exists directly correlates diet as important to mental health as it is to physical health, which means that if you are putting stuff into your body which is not nourishing your body and brain, then you are bound to feel the negative effects. In this book, highly-acclaimed and internationally renowned nutrition expert Dr. Michael Greger explains how what you put into your body and your lifestyle choices can be just as important as the prescription pills and pharmaceutical approaches. Every claim that Greger makes is backed up by plenty of comprehensive research and claims are easy to understand for those new to the subject of nutrition. If you feel as though you want to improve the nutritional content of the meals you consume, then this book is perfect for you to learn which foods are the best to feel amazing and avoid disease. The book particularly opens your eyes to the dangers of processed meats and dairy, so if you are interested in adopting more plant-based foods into your diet, then this book is perfect for you.

If you are interested in more book recommendations, you can add me on Goodreads.