I’m all for therapy (obviously… I’m a therapist). But I’m also an avid reader of books to help me gain more knowledge about myself, spark new ways of thinking, and really thrive in my life. There’s an awful lot of guff out there so to help you sort the wheat from the chaff, here are my top 5 books to help you thrive.
My top 5 books to help you thrive in your life (not just survive)
1.The Gifts of Imperfection by Brene Brown
For those of you needing a bit of self-compassion and wanting to be completely and utterly yourself
Look I’d recommend anything written by the wonderful Brené Brown, but this one really spoke to me. I can actually barely read my copy for all the underlining and “Yes!!!” written in the margin. If you would like to learn how to drop the shame, the need to ‘please, perform and perfect’ then read this short book. It’s about being really yourself, being compassionate to the parts of you that need it, and drop the need to be perfect. Brené’s hilarious and shares many examples from her personal life.
If you have been living under a rock and don’t know who she is, have a look at TED Talk on vulnerability which has been viewed 18 million times.
She also has one of the most viewed films on Netflix “The Call to Courage” .
You might also want to read:
2. Calling in the One by Katherine Woodward Thomas
For those wanting to be in a relationship
Written by the best-selling relationship therapist who helped Gwyneth ‘consciously uncouple’ from Chris Martin, this best seller helps you work through your own stuff that’s holding you back from being in a loving, supportive relationship in 7 weeks.
It has some really thought-provoking exercises. You know the kind that make you go “Oh dear… I can’t blame Bumble/Hinge… That’s on me”.
3. The Blue Zones of Happiness by Dan Buettner
For those wanting to feel more socially connected, and have a sense of pride and purpose in what you do
Following on from his ground-breaking research on The Blue Zones of the world where people naturally live to be 100, Dan researches the places in the world where people are the happiest and what they are doing that helps them thrive. Learn why the Costa Rican’s, Danish and Singaporeans are the happiest nations in the world, and how we can copy them.
You might also want to read:
4. Motherhood is it for me? by Denise Carlini and Ann Davidman
For those unsure if they want to have children
Highly recommended by at least two women that have been working through the dilemma of whether to have children or not. Over 12 weeks this book will take you from ambivalence to clarity.
5. Fear Less: How to win your way in work and life by Dr Pippa Grange
For those of you wanting a bit of help moving past their fear to greatness
Not a self-help book as such, but lots of interesting stories written by renown sports psychologist, Dr Pippa Grange. I found it helpful when she talked around our myths around success.
But also consider this as you read them:
Thriving involves having a growth mindset not a fixed mindset
Often the biggest obstacle between us and the thing we long for, is our fear, and our reaction to it. Whether you thrive or whether you just survive, depends not just on external circumstances, but also on your mindset.
Do you believe that through hard work and effort you can achieve things? (A ‘growth mindset’).
Or do you believe that if you’re not born with an innate talent or certain level of intelligence that that’s it. Hard luck? (A ‘fixed mindset’).
(Hint: This would be a really good topic to work through with your therapist)
Your mindset will depend on the state of your nervous system
Polyvagal theory researcher, Deb Dana, says that “story follows state”. Meaning the story you tell yourself about your situation, and your perceived ability to deal with it, will be informed by the underlying state of your nervous system.
Broadly speaking we have three nervous system states:
- Ventral vagal – Feeling safe, sociable, able to make eye contact and connect with others. Able to talk, focus your throughts and rationalise.
- Sympathetic state – Feeling unsafe, feeling like you want to run or fight, feel adrenaline coursing through your system, cognitive abilities switched off as we prepare to run or fight (so it’s hard to focus on work and communicate well).
- Dorsal vagal – Shutdown, social withdrawal, no energy, collapsed, zoned-out, dissociated.
Your mindset and whether you are in the right frame of mind to thrive, depend on what state your nervous system is in.
The good news is that we can actually ‘manually override’ the system and change what nervous system state we are in.
Read more here: Why I get you to move and breathe in your session.
These books will bring stuff up for you – let’s process it in your therapy session
You don’t have to do it all by yourself. These books will give you ‘Aha!’ moments and they will also bring up ‘stuff’ that you need help processing.
Bring it to your therapy session. In fact, most of the books will actually suggest this.
So there you have it… my top 5 books to help you thrive. I hope you enjoy them.
P.S. If you enjoyed this article, you might be interested in some others:
- How to identify and prevent burnout
- The link between chronic stress and depression (and what to do about it)
- The seven types of rest we all need
- Deep sleep reduces anxiety
- Why I get you to move and breathe in your session.