Abundant research has shown that mental health is every bit as vital to wellbeing as physical health, and yet emotional struggles can make us feel isolated and/or ashamed. Our longings for contentment and happiness can feel overwhelming, especially with no roadmap. The following is a list of books, "roadmaps" if you like, which we have found enlightening, affirming, or helpful, and for which we are grateful...
Stitches: A Handbook on Meaning, Hope, and Repair (2015)
By Anne Lamott
What do we do when life lurches out of balance? How can we reconnect to one another and to what’s sustaining, when evil and catastrophe seem inescapable? These questions lie at the heart of Stitches, Anne Lamott’s follow-up to her New York Times-bestselling work, Help, Thanks, Wow. In this book, she explores how we find meaning and peace in these loud and frantic times; where we start again after personal and public devastation; how we recapture wholeness after loss; and how we locate our true identities in this frazzled age. We begin, Lamott says, by collecting the ripped sheets of our emotional and spiritual fabric and sewing them back together – one stitch at a time. It’s in these stitches that the quilt of life begins, and embedded in them are strength, warmth, humor and humanity.
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The Noonday Demon: An Atlas of Depression (2015)
By Andrew Solomon
Andrew Solomon’s National Book Award-winning, bestselling, and transformative masterpiece on depression—“the book for a generation, elegantly written, meticulously researched, empathetic, and enlightening” (Time)—now with a major new chapter covering recently introduced and novel treatments, suicide and anti-depressants, pregnancy and depression, and much more.
It’s Never too Late (2013)
By Dallas Clayton
Full of wisdom and whimsy, this children’s book for adults is a beautifully written, gorgeously illustrated timeless story for anyone looking for the perfect reminder of just how magical life is. As adults with bills and babysitters, it’s easy for us to get distracted from what matters most in life. Yet if today was the day that it all came crashing down, would you be happy with your life? If not, it’s never too late. It’s never too late to tell someone you care, to start something new, to appreciate life at its fullest. Because at the end of the day it’s the love you’ll remember that you gave and you got.
Full Catastrophe Living (Revised Edition): Using the Wisdom of Your Body and Mind to Face Stress, Pain, and Illness (Revised edition, 2013)
By Jon Kabat-Zinn, with preface by Thich Nhat Hanh
Stress. It can sap our energy, undermine our health if we let it, even shorten our lives. It makes us more vulnerable to anxiety and depression, disconnection and disease. Based on Jon Kabat-Zinn’s renowned mindfulness-based stress reduction program, this classic, groundbreaking work—which gave rise to a whole new field in medicine and psychology—shows you how to use medically proven mind-body approaches derived from meditation and yoga to counteract stress, establish greater balance of body and mind, and stimulate well-being and healing.
The Antidote: Happiness for People Who Can’t Stand Positive Thinking (2013)
By Oliver Burkeman
Looking both east and west, in bulletins from the past and from far afield, Oliver Burkeman introduces us to an unusual group of people who share a single, surprising way of thinking about life. Whether experimental psychologists, terrorism experts, Buddhists, hardheaded business consultants, Greek philosophers, or modern-day gurus, they argue that in our personal lives, and in society at large, it’s our constant effort to be happy that is making us miserable. And that there is an alternative path to happiness and success that involves embracing failure, pessimism, insecurity, and uncertainty–the very things we spend our lives trying to avoid. Thought-provoking, counterintuitive, and ultimately uplifting.
Help, Thanks, Wow: The Three Essential Prayers (2012)
By Anne Lamott
New York Times-bestselling author Anne Lamott writes about the three simple prayers essential to coming through tough times, difficult days and the hardships of daily life. It is these three prayers – asking for assistance from a higher power, appreciating what we have that is good, and feeling awe at the world around us – that can get us through the day and can show us the way forward. In Help, Thanks, Wow, Lamott recounts how she came to these insights, explains what they mean to her and how they have helped, and explores how others have embraced these same ideas.
Living in Gratitude: A Journey That Will Change Your Life (2011)
by Angeles Arrien
Author Angeles Arrien invites you to cultivate the power of deep appreciation so that it becomes our foundation for daily living. Sharing some of the latest scientific research, she gives examples of how gratitude boosts the immune system, fosters creativity, mends relationships, and improves financial well-being. Integrating her research with stories, prayers, teachings, and practices from cultures and traditions spanning the globe, Angeles presents a 12-month plan for mastering the art of giving thanks every day through practices.
In an Unspoken Voice: How the Body Releases Trauma and Restores Goodness (2010)
By Peter A. Levine
In this culmination of his life’s work, Peter A. Levine draws on his broad experience as a clinician, a student of comparative brain research, a stress scientist and a keen observer of the naturalistic animal world to explain the nature and transformation of trauma in the body, brain and psyche. In an Unspoken Voice is based on the idea that trauma is neither a disease nor a disorder, but rather an injury caused by fright, helplessness and loss that can be healed by engaging our innate capacity to self-regulate high states of arousal and intense emotions. Enriched with a coherent theoretical framework and compelling case examples, the book elegantly blends the latest findings in biology, neuroscience and body-oriented psychotherapy to show that when we bring together animal instinct and reason, we can become more whole human beings.
The Gifts of Imperfection: Let Go of Who You Think You’re Supposed to Be and Embrace Who You Are (2010)
By Brene Brown
In The Gifts of Imperfection, Brené Brown, a leading expert on shame, authenticity, and belonging, shares ten guideposts on the power of Wholehearted living—a way of engaging with the world from a place of worthiness. In her ten guideposts, Brown engages our minds, hearts, and spirits as she explores how we can cultivate the courage, compassion, and connection to wake up in the morning and think, “No matter what gets done and how much is left undone, I am enough,” and to go to bed at night thinking, “Yes, I am sometimes afraid, but I am also brave. And, yes, I am imperfect and vulnerable, but that doesn’t change the truth that I am worthy of love and belonging.”
The Mindfulness and Acceptance Workbook for Anxiety: A Guide to Breaking Free from Anxiety, Phobias, and Worry Using Acceptance and Commitment Therapy (2007)
By John P. Forsyth and Georg H. Eifert
The book has one purpose: to help you live better, more fully, more richly. Your life is calling on you to make that choice, and the skills in this workbook can help you make it happen. Find out how your mind can trap you, keeping you stuck and struggling in anxiety and fear. Learn to nurture your capacity for acceptance, mindfulness, kindness, and compassion. Use these qualities to shift your focus away from anxiety and onto what you really want your life to be about. As you do, your life will get bigger as your anxious suffering gets smaller. No matter what kind of anxiety problem you’re struggling with, this workbook can guide you toward a more vibrant and purposeful life. Includes a CD with bonus worksheets, self-assessments, and guided mindfulness meditations.
The Van Gogh Blues (2002)
By Eric Meisel
Creative people of all kinds look for understanding, empathy, and meaning in life. That is what they do, what they work with. This will often lead to depression– but not because understanding, empathy, and meaning are not possible. Dr. Eric Maisel, an internationally known expert on the creative process and best-selling author, has developed a four-step plan for engaging this type of depression and moving past it. Using examples of famous creators like Vincent van Gogh and Fyodor Dostoyevsky and not-so-famous creators who have struggled with this kind of depression, he shows that despite the difficulty, creative people hold the ability to forge relationships, repair themselves, and create meaning in an utterly unique and powerful way.
A Short Guide to a Happy Life (2000)
By Anna Quindlen
From the author of Blessings and Still Life with Bread Crumbs, Anna Quindlen’s classic reflection on a meaningful life is the perfect gift for graduation, or any occasion. “Life is made of moments, small pieces of silver amidst long stretches of tedium. It would be wonderful if they came to us unsummoned, but particularly in lives as busy as the ones most of us lead now, that won’t happen. We have to teach ourselves now to live, really live . . . to love the journey, not the destination.”
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