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The Doctor Is In: Self-Help Books That Inspire and Challenge

Every once in a while, you come across a  book so insightful and mind blowing it has the potential to change your life.  Recently, I read four books on the topics of shame and happiness that happened to do just that.  Without further ado, here they are:

I Thought It was Just Me (but it isn’t) By Brené Brown


In case you didn’t catch her out of this world TED Talk on “The Power of Vulnerability,” which became one of the most popular TED Talks of all time, allow me to introduce to you Brené Brown.  She is a professor at the University of Houston and a shame researcher.

In this book, which is based on years of groundbreaking research and hundreds of interviews, she explores perfectionism and our fear of being inadequate, something women all over have struggled with and can relate to. She explains that our imperfections and vulnerabilities connect us to each other and our humanity.

Dr. Brown writes, “We need our lives back.  It’s time to reclaim the gifts of imperfection- the courage to be real, the compassion we need to love ourselves and others, and the connection that gives true purpose and meaning to life.  These are the gifts that bring love, laughter, gratitude, empathy, and joy into our lives.”

From beginning to end, Brown’s book is brimming with indispensible advice for overcoming shame and living life wholeheartedly.  Pick up a copy and start reading today.  Just don’t be surprised when you find yourself underlining and taking notes like crazy.

Daring Greatly: How the Courage to be Vulnerable Transforms the Way We Live, Love, Parent, and Lead by Brené Brown


In this book, Brown builds upon the premise that she addresses in I Thought it Was Just Me by exploring in more depth what it means to face our vulnerabilities.  She gives practical real world strategies for approaching situations that demand vulnerability with courage.

I first read this book when I attended the Mark Twain International School and it is now one of my favorites. Whether it’s starting a new job, beginning a new relationship, pursuing a passion, or a difficult conversation with someone you love, life is full of situations that require us to be vulnerable.  Brown’s book shows us how to navigate those situations with grace and courage, and ultimately, come out stronger.

As much as her first book was a must-read, this one is too.  And once you start reading, you’ll quickly see why you can never get enough of Brené Brown.

The Happiness Project by Gretchen Rubin


One day while riding on a bus, Gretchen Rubin reflects on her life and how “the days are long, but the years are short.”  She thinks about how quickly time is passing her by, and she realizes that, even though she is happy, she could be happier.  With that, she embarks on a year-long journey that she calls “The Happiness Project.”

Rubin decides to devote each month to a different goal, with January’s being to have more energy, February (the month of Valentine’s Day) to work on her romantic relationship, March has her focusing on career goals, and so on and so forth with each month having a different theme.  All the while, she writes with a humble, self-deprecating style that you can’t help but to relate.

This book is chock full of tips on ways to become happier, and even if you don’t agree with all of Rubin’s suggestions, you’re sure to come away with plenty of happiness inducing ideas that will work for you.  Read it and see if you don’t feel happier afterwards.  I dare you.

The How of Happiness: A New Approach to Getting the Life You Want by Sonja Lyubomirsky


This book is similar to Rubin’s in that it offers strategies to become happier, but different in that it reads less like a memoir and more like a factual, research-based self-help manual.  In it, Lyubomirsky discusses that 40% of our happiness is within our power to change, and she presents different activities that have been proven to boost happiness.

What makes her book so appealing is the individualized approach she takes, acknowledging that what makes one person happy may not work as well for someone else.  Just as we all have our own unique DNA, Lyubomirsky claims that we all differ in terms of which activities will bring us happiness.

With that in mind, she begins the book with a person-activity fit diagnostic test designed to help you discover the activities that will be most effective in making you happier.  Among these activities, she suggests expressing gratitude, cultivating optimism, avoiding over-thinking, practicing acts of kindness, and many more.

Lyubomirsky emphasizes that happiness is like a muscle that needs to be continually strengthened.  Grab a copy of her book to find out what happiness activities will work best for you, and with time and practice, you’re sure to become happier than ever before.

So what are you waiting for?  Get these great books today to get the life you’ve always wanted.  Trust me, you’ll be glad you did.  And once you’ve reached the last page, the only regret you’ll have is that you’re done reading them.

Ali Lawrence

Ali is a content specialist for a tech company and blogs in her free time at MarCom Land. Her articles have been published by Her Fitness Hut, Examiner.com, and Ask Miss A.

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