Are you looking for some inspirational reads to help you switch some things up?
Over the past few years, I have been drawn more and more to books that make me stop, reassess my life and how I’m living it, and make small changes—or at least think about making them! While some of the “aha” moments from these books are seemingly small, I call them “life-changing” because they have the potential to motivate positive changes. Almost half of these books are ones I read for the first time in 2015 on recommendations from friends. Many of us are in the same life phase, one during which we’re interested in assessing where we are at this mid-life point and the changes we can make to flourish during our “second half.” My mid-life assessment (apparently I plan to live to at least 98) appears to be in full-swing based on my reading list.
I’ve created this list to remind myself to re-read these books when I need a boost in some area. I also want to share reading ideas with you. This year I did the “Goodreads Challenge,” and because I like setting and reaching goals, I ended up reading more than I have in recent years. Planning what books I wanted to read, and keeping track, helped me focus more on my reading (and less on Pinterest).
I’d love to hear about books that have positively impacted you so that I can add them to my 2016 reading list! Please comment or email me with your suggestions.
- The Alchemist, Paulo Coelho
The story in this book is timeless and thought-provoking, and the number of quotable lines is out of control. My bookstore-owner friend recommended The Alchemist, and I read it in two days.
“That’s what alchemists do. They show that, when we strive to become better than we are, everything around us becomes better, too.”
“Everyone, when they are young, knows what their Personal Legend is.”
- Simplify. Ten Practices to Unclutter Your Soul, Bill Hybels
Hybels gives sound advice with steps to take to gain energy, organization, and connection by focusing on what’s most important.
“Simplified living is about more than doing less…It’s walking away from innumerable lesser opportunities in favor of the few to which we’ve been called and for which we’ve been created.”
- The Sweet Spot: How to Find Your Groove at Home and Work, Christine Carter
I learned a new term—“MED” (minimum effective dose)—and have applied it to many areas, including exercise, cooking, and reading. Instead of having lofty ambitions in every area, I’ve given myself permission to do “just enough.” This and many other lessons make this book a gem and a true life-changer.
“Because we can’t do everything, we need to make choices. Which means that to the extent we can, we need to say ‘no’ to all the things that don’t reflect our values and highest priorities.”
- Halftime: Moving from Success to Significance, Bob Buford
This is the perfect mid-life read. Buford walks through what the different seasons of life hold and how to plan for more significance during our second half.
“Getting back to the center requires us to downshift, to slow down. And once we return to the core—once we know who we are and what’s in the box—we can accept the fact that some of the things on the perimeter will not receive as much attention as they once did.”
- One Thousand Gifts, Ann Voskamp
The importance of practicing gratitude cannot be understated, and I need a constant reminder to focus on all that’s good in my life. Keeping track of all the simple and ordinary gifts in each day is what Voskamp reminds us to do.
“It takes a full twenty minutes after your stomach is full for your brain to register satiation. How long does it take your soul to realize that your life is full? The slower the living, the greater the sense of fullness and satisfaction.”
- Daring Greatly, Brene Brown
The subtitle, “How the courage to be vulnerable transforms the way we live, love, parent, and lead,” says it all.
“What makes this constant assessing and comparing so self-defeating is that we are often comparing our lives, our marriages, and our communities to unattainable, media-driven visions of perfection, or we’re holding up our reality against our own fictional account of how great someone else has it.”
- Flourish, Martin Seligman
Years ago, this book sparked my interest in positive psychology and started me on a path of learning that led to a master’s degree in psychology and a shelf full of books on happiness, well-being, gratitude, and positivity. Seligman (along with Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi, author of Flow: The Psychology of Optimal Experience) started the positive psychology movement, and this book sums up the tenets of what research has shown create a flourishing (not always happy and perfect) life.
“It is all too commonplace not to be mentally ill but to be stuck and languishing in life. Positive mental health is a presence: the presence of positive emotion, the presence of engagement, the presence of meaning, the presence of good relationships, and the presence of accomplishment. Being in a state of mental health is not merely being disorder free; rather it is the presence of flourishing.”
- The Energy Bus: 10 Rules to Fuel Your Life, Work, and Team with Positive Energy, Jon Gordon
I listened to this on an audio book and got inspired by the 10 simple lessons that show how one person – you – can positively impact your family, your work team, and everyone you meet each day.
- Delivering Happiness: A Path to Profits, Passion, and Purpose, Tony Hsieh
I took about 20 pages of notes on this book and ended up writing an article for other camp directors, because I was so inspired by Hsieh’s vision that Zappos be much more than just a shoe company. His focus on WOWing customers and creating a happy work culture are an inspiration.
- Coach Wooden: The 7 Principles That Shaped His Life and Will Change Yours, Pat Williams
John Wooden, the greatest coach of all time, was a man of great character who lived out his values and taught his players to do the same. This book offers a great reminder to focus on the people we love, help others, and be true to ourselves.
“If you’ve made each day a masterpiece, then by week’s end you’ve had a heck of a week.”I really struggled to keep this list at 10, but I thought that number was more palatable than a list of 20 or 30. I can’t help but add that I also soak up every book that Anne Lamott and Jen Hatmaker write, because those authors both encourage me and make me laugh. In addition to Daring Greatly, I’ve also enjoyed Brene Brown’s The Gifts of Imperfection and Rising Strong. For non-readers (or those who don’t have time for a whole book, Brown’s TED talks and Super Soul Sunday appearances with Oprah are awesome. Malcolm Gladwell and Gretchen Rubin (The Happiness Project) have also been thought- and change-provoking reads. And the list goes on…
What are some thought-provoking or inspiring books that you’ve read? Let me know so that I can add them to my Goodreads “want to read” list!
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