After graduating university it took a while (2 years, actually) for me to get my reading mojo back. But right now, I would not know what to do without my books. I have switched completely to non-fiction, because there is just SO MUCH TO LEARN. (I elaborated earlier on why I became I reader of personal growth books.) So here are four of the best personal growth books I read in 2019.
I started the year fully focused on increasing my income. Which has worked, by the way, thanks to motivating books like this one. Before reading this book, I had never considered money from a mental, emotional, let alone spiritual point of view. However, that has changed entirely. Sincero focuses on our ‘relationship’ with money. For example, she claims that many of us perceive money as ‘difficult to make’, and the desire to be wealthy as ‘superficial’ or even ‘bad’.
Sincero introduced me to the concept of having a (negative) relationship with money. Besides, this book was also the first I read about manifestation and the law of attraction. About how our thoughts and mindset have an impact on our everyday realities, including the amount of financial abundance we experience. Her down-to-earth and hilarious writing style made me buy into the concept, where more woo-woo-kinda books probably wouldn’t have been able to.
“Just like electricity and gravity — two things that impact our everyday lives that we don’t actually see, that few of us understand, and that, hello, everyone believes in anyway — Universal Intelligence and the power of our thoughts are real and affecting our lives every single moment.”
This book is a perfect follow-up for Sincero’s book. More so than Sincero, Duffield-Thomas focuses on our subconscious, negative thoughts about money. She calls these thoughts “money blocks.” I didn’t think I had any money blocks — I love money and I don’t feel ashamed to admit I want to make a lot of it — but I was nonetheless encouraged by her advise to go through my life chronologically and write down all negative experiences surrounding money. The result? I have a SHITLOAD of money blocks. Just like Duffield-Thomas predicts, I could hardly stop writing, so much stuff came up.
“Holding on to the energy of money drama is incredibly subtle but dangerously destructive. You might not think you even have any money drama left from your life. Well, you’d be surprised. Most women have at least a few major incidents around money that affect them as adults today.”
Of course the book goes on the describe how to deal with money blocks and how to pave the way towards financial abundance. Most of it has to do with manifestation, goal setting and dealing with external resistance. For example (and not in the last place) from friends and family. But the book is also in large part devoted to BELIEVING that you can make all the money you want to make. And that you DESERVE to do so too.
I must admit I read this book in the wrong state of mind, in bits and pieces, and at a time I wasn’t really interested in the topic. As a result, its central argument has not really come across. But I will definitely revisit this book some time in the future, to understand it fully.
Brown is a shame researcher, studying how shame and guilt go hand in hand with vulnerability and courage. According to Brown — and I love this idea, because I am convinced it is true — being vulnerable is not for ‘weak’ people. Being vulnerable requires enormous courage, because you must put feelings of fear and shame aside. Vulnerability builds trust and is therefore essential in relationships. I realized I recognized myself and others around me in the quote below (and not in good way). So that was definitely an eyeopener.
“If we are the kind of people who ‘don’t do vulnerability,’ there’s nothing that makes us feel more threatened and more incited to attack and shame people than to see someone daring greatly. Someone else’s daring provides an uncomfortable mirror that reflects back our own fears about showing up, creating, and letting ourselves be seen. […][It] leads to mindless responses like ‘That’s so stupid,’ or ‘What a loser idea.’ Cool is one of the most rampant forms of cynicism. Whatever. Totally lame. So uncool. Who gives a shit? […] Being too excited or invested makes you lame. A word that we’ve banned in our household along with loser and stupid.
Vague and all over the place as my thoughts, memories and notes about this book are, it came it exactly the right time. I struggled like I have never struggled before mentally in 2019, and when I was at my lowest, I read this book. It literally made me get through the days by teaching me how we are not our thoughts and emotions. I am definitely going to reread it soon, because I know there is so much more important information here that I was not fully capable of understanding at the time.
The book is very spiritual, written in a very serious tone of voice, and not everyone will like that. But I encourage you to give it a try regardless. Its most important message is to live in the present, and it tells you everything you need to know about how to do that. Below I have cited one of the examples Tolle gives about surrendering to and accepting the present — an example I refer back to often and to which I compare my own present realities.
“For example, if you were stuck in the mud somewhere, you wouldn’t say: ‘Okay, I resign myself to being stuck in the mud.’ […] You don’t need to accept an undesirable or unpleasant life situation. Nor do you need to deceive yourself and say that there is nothing wrong with being stuck in the mud. No. You recognize fully that you want to get out of it. You then narrow your attention down to the present moment without mentally labelling it in any way. This means that there is no judgment of the Now. Therefore, there is no resistance, no emotional negativity. […] Then you take action and do all that you can do to get out of the mud. Such action I call positive action. It is far more effective than negative action, which arises out of anger, despair, or frustration.”
I will leave you with these reading suggestions for now, but there were more books I read in 2019 that have changed me for the better. I devoted an entire blogpost to one of my favorites: Deena Kastor’s Let Your Mind Run. Other than that, keep an eye out for part 2 of this blogpost series.
PS. Did you know I am taking this year to write a book myself? Read about this and four more of my 2020 goal(s) here.
Photo: In the midst of another great (not-so-fiction-as-it-seems) book: Paulo Coelho’s ‘The Alchemist’.