My Take: Great Books that Helped Me

Dear Readers,

This time I have compiled a list of self-help books that have personally helped me over the years. I was always that not-so-intellectual person who never read anything apart from fiction but recently I have taken to the self-help genre. I feel books can really change the way you think, feel and understand yourself. I’ve read my fair share of such books and here are my favourites that have all contributed to my healing in some way or the other: 

The Courage to be Disliked by Ichiro Kishimi and Fumitake Koga: I stumbled upon this book while buying a gift for my friend at a bookstore. The title immediately jumped out at me and being a people pleaser, I grabbed it without a second thought. I am so glad I did. This book is one of the best self-help books I have ever read. It teaches the reader how to let go of the past and their trauma and reminds them that we are very much alive and powerful in the present moment. We have all the tools and skills to make the right decisions for ourselves in the present. The book argues that the only thing we lack is the ‘courage’ to take a leap of faith and break the chains of the past. Our negative experiences and past often feel familiar to us and we cling to damaging coping patterns because we are afraid of change. This book gives us a push and reminds us that only we have the power to change our lives and lead it for our own fulfilment. It is based on the theory of psychologist Alfred Adler, and narrated in the form of a monk and a student having a conversation. The student asks legitimate doubts regarding this revolutionary theory and the monk calmly solves them one by one. I highly recommend this book to everyone! 

Atomic Habits by James Clear: This book offers a practical guide on how to change your life one small habit at a time. Often, we set very lofty goals for ourselves and are unable to meet a single one of them. This book teaches us how to set realistic goals and build a system of good habits, while erasing the bad ones. The mantra behind this book is that nothing happens overnight and true transformation can only take place with small yet incremental changes. The pages are littered with examples of successful sports teams and movie stars who achieved success by building small, positive changes over a long period of time. While other books tell us ‘what’ to strive for, this book tells us ‘how’ we can achieve our goals. This is a great book for everyone to read and provides simple, practical solutions to life’s complex problems. 

The Power of Now by Eckhart Tolle: I read this book long back when I first experienced Anxiety. After googling the symptoms of ‘anxiety disorder’ (the good ol’ days), I found this book to be one of the most recommended books for helping with anxiety. It was for good reason too. The author was himself suffering from clinical depression and suicidal thoughts when he stumbled upon the philosophy of ‘nowness’. The book describes the power of living in the present moment. No task is too small to not be savoured and fully lived. Never again should you brush your teeth while scrolling through your phone or eat sitting in front of the TV. Whatever you are doing, pay full attention to it, engaging all your senses in the process. While having a bath, feel the pressure of the water on your body, smell the scent of the soap, hear the crash when the water collides with the floor. By being mindful of everyday tasks, we can concentrate our minds and get in touch with our true feelings. The author also talks about spirituality and how a calm mind can lead us to a higher spiritual plane. It is definitely worth a read and there will be some useful things one can take away from the book! 

Bonus: Eleanor Oliphant is Completely Fine: This is the only fiction book on this list. While it does not give any practical tips to change your life it tells a touching story of a wounded girl trying to make her way in an unfriendly world. Contrary to the title, Eleanor Oliphant is certainly ‘not fine’ as much as she pretends otherwise. In this sad yet hilarious book, we get to see the world from her perspective- where people are always strange, everyone has a hidden motive and there is no one to rely on. The book offers a glimpse into how those suffering from mental illness feel on a daily basis. It also shows how isolating mental illness can be. This book also contains a story of friendship and trust and how to best support and accept those grappling with these issues. This book is a must-read for those having mental health concerns or those who know others suffering from them. It’s also good for those looking for a heartfelt yet funny and gripping book to read! 

Thanks for reading! Remember to share your own recommendations on things that helped with your mental health. Also, read other stories and discussions that continue the conversation on our website , Instagram, Twitter.

About the Author: Riya Aggarwal is a journalist who likes to write about mental health, women’s rights, and culture. (@riyumiyu_)

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