Without a doubt this year has been extremely challenging. 2020 has thrown a number of obstacles our way with the Coronavirus, a worldwide pandemic and what seemed like a constant stream of bad news being broadcast to us nearly every day. While that was all happening, each individual had their own personal problems, struggles, stresses and losses to deal with.
A tough year often brings strain on a person’s well being be it physical, mental or spiritual. The toll taken on these aspects of your well being can seriously affect how you go about your day, from your actions to your thought process. With a new year on the horizon, it’s the perfect opportunity to try better yourself, and improve your overall well being no matter what hurdles life has, is, or will throw at you.
If you’ve struggled this year, with either feeling disconnected from yourself, or have battled feelings of fear, anxiety, depression and guilt. If you have, don’t worry, you’re not alone, that’s a completely normal response to the stressors this year has added to everyday life. Maybe picking up one of these books might spur you to begin being kinder to yourself and take the first steps on your journey to reaching your fullest potential. 2021 is the perfect time to start taking care of you, for you.
It’s never too late and it’s always the right time to take care of yourself.
Here are some enlightening reads I recommend for the new year.
1. Ikigai: The Japanese Secret to a Long and Happy Life by Héctor García and Francesc Miralles
I recently read this book when I was extremely stressed out, I found myself on autopilot and not really enjoying myself or being present. This is a recipe for burn out, which I did. Instead of actually enjoying my tasks throughout the day, it was a chore, and when it came time to wind down, I was so exhausted I didn’t want to do anything. I then decided to give this book a read.
This international bestseller focuses on a Japanese proverb Ikigai, which essentially means “your reason for being” or “your reason to jump out of bed”. Everyone has an Ikigai, you just need to find it. It focuses on finding a balance between your skills, interests and desires. It also delves into how centurions live in Okinawa, Japan and the other five blue zones in the world which have the largest populations who live to be 100.
A striking Japanese proverb at the beginning of the book hooked me: it says “only staying active will make you want to live a hundred years”. I highly recommend this read for anyone who has struggled with stress or finding their path in life this year.
2. Think Like a Monk, Jay Shetty
This tale from social media star Jay Shetty, follows the time he spent as a practicing monk. He draws on this time he spent to reflect and advises the reader on how anyone can live a more meaningful life. The wisdom he learned from practicing as a monk are skills that anyone can apply to have a less stressful and anxious life. He transforms abstract lessons into advice and exercises we can all apply. When you think like a monk you learn some of the following:
- How to overcome negativity
- How to learn from everyone you meet
- Why you are not your thoughts
This book is a great and digestible option for those who are beginning their journey to self enlightenment and self improvement.
3. How to Change your Mind, Michael Pollen
This scientific read delves into the history of hallucinogenic drugs, revealing that their mystical and medical benefits are indivisible. This enlightening read reveals new evidence on psychedelics’ power to aid in curing mental illness, addiction and helping people die more peacefully. Pollen investigates the revolutionary treatment, whilst personally detailing his own personal experiences with psychedelics. Even if you don’t agree with the premise or experiments of the book, it is an eye opening read nonetheless.
4. What a Time to be Alone:The Slumflower’s guide to why you are already enough, Chidera Eggerue
This is a charming guide to self worth, love and kindness, It is perfect for those who have struggled this year with feeling less than. This book is all about empowering yourself and recognising your worth, even if you feel worthless. This read is great for young women; it shows you that it’s more than okay to be alone, it’s actually “the best freaking thing that ever happened to you”. This insightful read teaches you how to celebrate yourself, it is delivered in a charming, sassy and witty manner which makes the read all the better!
5. How to Win Friends and Influence People, Dale Carnegie
This is not a new book; it was published in 1936 and has sold over a million copies world wide. However I find this to be a timeless read – it has even been listed by Time Magazine as one of the most influential reads. I think this is great read for young adults, particularly graduates entering into new and different workplaces who want to strive to be great. It is particularly relevant for those struggling with constant rejection emails or calls from jobs with the current economic climate and job market. This book might perk you up, and inspire you to keep trying!
It teaches the reader techniques in handling people, genuine ways to make people like you. For example, start actually being more interested in those around you. It teaches the reader to excel as a leader and win people over with your way of thinking.
I think it is perfect not just for young adults but everyone, however particularly for those entering into the workforce who want to make a great impression. It teaches you to smile and listen to others but most importantly, to do it sincerely, and people will naturally be drawn to you. This is an influential and relevant read for anyone who wants to reach their fullest potential in a competitive modern world.