Holiday Reading List: Books that can change your life

As I slowly emerge from the Christmas frenzy, I dream of the holidays to come. In Australia it's a time of long afternoons, twilight swims, the sound of cicadas and beachside barbecues. If you're further North maybe it's a time for cozying up by the fireplace and watching the snowflakes fall with a hot cup of eggnog.

Wherever you are in the world, perhaps the ultimate indulgence at this time of year is to kick back in the company of a beloved book. The kind of book that feels like it was written just for you, that has you fighting off sleep to read one more chapter... and if you're lucky enough, even opens your mind and heart to see the world a little differently.

One question we hear time and time again is.... What should I read these holidays?

So, to help you find your holiday companion, we've asked a bunch of wise and wonderful wellness gurus the question:

What was the one book that changed your life?

Here's what they had to say...

What book changed/ improved/ touched/ awakened your life?

Louise Hay, You Can Heal Your Life

What did it teach you?

The connection between the way we think, talk to ourselves and feel and the wellbeing of our physical body. It taught me that our bodies (and life) can heal through the practise of self-love. It showed me that when we change our mindset and self-talk, our energy changes, and as our energy changes, our life changes. When are a connected to love, treating ourselves with kindness and practising compassion and acceptance, we strengthen our relationship with ourselves and this becomes the foundation for everything else in our life to thrive.

I would recommend this for anyone who...

Is wanting to embark on a journey of self-love and physical healing. Anyone who is craving simple, clear and practical ways to love and accept themselves more deeply and change of the old thinking that has been keeping them stuck.

Connect with Connie Chapman:

www.conniechapman.com

What book changed/ improved/ touched/ awakened your life? The Happiness Trap by Dr Russ Harris What did it teach you?  How to better understand my thoughts. This has had such a profound impact on how strongly my thoughts influence me and allowed me to become empowered in choosing which thoughts I listen to (and act upon!). I would recommend this book for anyone who...  Is interested in understanding more about their own mind and how thoughts can impact their choices and behaviours. It also contains a great variety of practical exercises based on acceptance and commitment therapy and mindfulness! It's both an interesting and insightful read, with real potential to help readers make beneficial changes in their daily lives. Connect wit Rachael Kable: www.rachaelkable.com

What book changed/ improved/ touched/ awakened your life?

The Happiness Trap by Dr Russ Harris

What did it teach you? 

How to better understand my thoughts. This has had such a profound impact on how strongly my thoughts influence me and allowed me to become empowered in choosing which thoughts I listen to (and act upon!).

I would recommend this book for anyone who...

 Is interested in understanding more about their own mind and how thoughts can impact their choices and behaviours. It also contains a great variety of practical exercises based on acceptance and commitment therapy and mindfulness! It's both an interesting and insightful read, with real potential to help readers make beneficial changes in their daily lives.

Connect wit Rachael Kable:

www.rachaelkable.com

What book changed/ improved/ touched/ awakened your life? Women Who Run with the Wolves by Clarissa Pinkola Estes What did it teach you? How domestication is the dysfunctional norm, and how important it is that we access and express our inner wild woman. I would recommend this book for anyone who... Has a vagina, or loves someone who does. Connect with Lauren Tober: www.laurentober.com

What book changed/ improved/ touched/ awakened your life?

Women Who Run with the Wolves by Clarissa Pinkola Estes

What did it teach you?

How domestication is the dysfunctional norm, and how important it is that we access and express our inner wild woman.

I would recommend this book for anyone who...

Has a vagina, or loves someone who does.

Connect with Lauren Tober:

www.laurentober.com

What book changed/ improved/ touched/ awakened your life? There are few things that I love more than snuggling up with a book that teaches me how to live with a little more love, clarity or courage. At this time of year. I always have one book within arms reach: Spirited by Rachel McDonald What did it teach you? Spirited is a game changer. It gave me the tools to clarify who I truly wanted to be and how to take steps to get there. In this book, Rachel cuts through 'ideas' and gives you the tools to put your dreams into action. Spirited reminds me of that Oprah quote "We all want to fulfil our truest highest potential - we have to know what sparks the light in us to illuminate the world". I would recommend this book for anyone who... Is seeking a greater sense of direction, purpose or inner connection.  Spirited gives you a roadmap and actionable wisdom to get you on a path that feel like your own. It is the perfect companion for the beginning of a year or the beginning of a new chapter.   

What book changed/ improved/ touched/ awakened your life?

There are few things that I love more than snuggling up with a book that teaches me how to live with a little more love, clarity or courage. At this time of year. I always have one book within arms reach:

Spirited by Rachel McDonald

What did it teach you?

Spirited is a game changer. It gave me the tools to clarify who I truly wanted to be and how to take steps to get there. In this book, Rachel cuts through 'ideas' and gives you the tools to put your dreams into action. Spirited reminds me of that Oprah quote "We all want to fulfil our truest highest potential - we have to know what sparks the light in us to illuminate the world".

I would recommend this book for anyone who...

Is seeking a greater sense of direction, purpose or inner connection.  Spirited gives you a roadmap and actionable wisdom to get you on a path that feel like your own. It is the perfect companion for the beginning of a year or the beginning of a new chapter. 

 

  What book changed/ improved/ touched/ awakened your life? True Refuge by Tara Brach.  What did it teach you? It came at a time when I really needed it, when I needed to be reminded that life is easier when we learn to accept things as they are, rather than trying to control the things we cannot. It allowed me to get peace and clarity during a time when I was struggling.  I would recommend this book to anyone who... is finding it hard to accept something in their life, if they are struggling with wanting things to be different when they cannot control them, or if they would like to learn about meditation. 

 

What book changed/ improved/ touched/ awakened your life?

True Refuge by Tara Brach. 

What did it teach you?

It came at a time when I really needed it, when I needed to be reminded that life is easier when we learn to accept things as they are, rather than trying to control the things we cannot. It allowed me to get peace and clarity during a time when I was struggling. 

I would recommend this book to anyone who...

is finding it hard to accept something in their life, if they are struggling with wanting things to be different when they cannot control them, or if they would like to learn about meditation. 

What book changed/ improved/ touched/ awakened your life? The Gifts of Imperfection by Brene Brown. What did it teach you? The antidote to shame is empathy. By courageously acknowledging the shame we carry and owning the attached stories, shame cannot survive. I would recommend this book for anyone who... is struggling to feel comfortable in their own skin - for whatever reason that may be. Connect with Rebecca Ray: www.rebeccaray.com.au

What book changed/ improved/ touched/ awakened your life?

The Gifts of Imperfection by Brene Brown.

What did it teach you?

The antidote to shame is empathy. By courageously acknowledging the shame we carry and owning the attached stories, shame cannot survive.

I would recommend this book for anyone who...

is struggling to feel comfortable in their own skin - for whatever reason that may be.

Connect with Rebecca Ray:

www.rebeccaray.com.au

What book changed/ improved/ touched/ awakened your life? The Happiness Trap by Russ Harris (that's two votes for this book) What did it teach you? That my definition of happiness was actually getting in the way of experiencing satisfaction, joy, and gratitude in life. This book (particularly the first few chapters) outlines how we often set ourselves up for disappointment and get stuck in the trap of happiness, by putting high expectations that we should be feeling ‘joy’ or ‘ecstatic' all the time. When in fact, true happiness comes from experiencing harmony with our values, life satisfaction, self compassion, connection with others, and self awareness.  I would recommend this book for anyone who... Is struggling with understanding why they don’t feel happy enough, is constantly comparing themselves to other ‘happy’ people, or who are constantly getting trapped in cycles of stress, depression, anxiety, poor relationships and they don’t know why. Connect with Jess McCallum: www.confidentlife.com.au

What book changed/ improved/ touched/ awakened your life?

The Happiness Trap by Russ Harris (that's two votes for this book)

What did it teach you?

That my definition of happiness was actually getting in the way of experiencing satisfaction, joy, and gratitude in life. This book (particularly the first few chapters) outlines how we often set ourselves up for disappointment and get stuck in the trap of happiness, by putting high expectations that we should be feeling ‘joy’ or ‘ecstatic' all the time. When in fact, true happiness comes from experiencing harmony with our values, life satisfaction, self compassion, connection with others, and self awareness. 

I would recommend this book for anyone who...

Is struggling with understanding why they don’t feel happy enough, is constantly comparing themselves to other ‘happy’ people, or who are constantly getting trapped in cycles of stress, depression, anxiety, poor relationships and they don’t know why.

Connect with Jess McCallum:

www.confidentlife.com.au

What book changed/ improved/ touched/ awakened your life? The Upward Spiral by Alex Korb.  I read this book to help with my clinical work but I found it helpful personally to motivate me to make small changes to improve my daily mood and stress levels. The book runs through actions you can take that will help treat and prevent depression and explains positive brain changes that occur as a result in an easy to understand way. I recommend it to clients who like to read. What did it teach you? Small daily activities can make a big difference to brain chemistry. Since reading the book I've taken on board the message that exercise is one of the most positive steps you can make to feel happier and even small amounts count. Now I exercise most days of the week and on days where time is tight for at least 7 minutes. I would recommend this book for anyone who... Would like to learn more about how your brain changes in response to your actions and those who have experienced depression, especially recurrent depression. Connect with Nadene Van Der Linden: www.lindenclinicalpsychology.com.au

What book changed/ improved/ touched/ awakened your life?

The Upward Spiral by Alex Korb. 

I read this book to help with my clinical work but I found it helpful personally to motivate me to make small changes to improve my daily mood and stress levels. The book runs through actions you can take that will help treat and prevent depression and explains positive brain changes that occur as a result in an easy to understand way. I recommend it to clients who like to read.

What did it teach you?

Small daily activities can make a big difference to brain chemistry. Since reading the book I've taken on board the message that exercise is one of the most positive steps you can make to feel happier and even small amounts count. Now I exercise most days of the week and on days where time is tight for at least 7 minutes.

I would recommend this book for anyone who...

Would like to learn more about how your brain changes in response to your actions and those who have experienced depression, especially recurrent depression.

Connect with Nadene Van Der Linden:

www.lindenclinicalpsychology.com.au

What book changed/ improved/ touched/ awakened your life? The How of Happiness by Sonja Lyubomirsky. This book is solid introduction to positive psychology and covers almost all main areas which are relevant to building psychological wellbeing. What did it teach you? Happiness is a choice. We need to prioritise happiness, value and nurture it. Nobody gains from us being miserable. I would recommend this book for anyone who... Anyone interested in wellbeing, living a good life, learning about happiness. It’s the perfect starter’s kit. Connect with Natalie Barker: www.hellohappiness.com.au

What book changed/ improved/ touched/ awakened your life?

The How of Happiness by Sonja Lyubomirsky. This book is solid introduction to positive psychology and covers almost all main areas which are relevant to building psychological wellbeing.

What did it teach you?

Happiness is a choice. We need to prioritise happiness, value and nurture it. Nobody gains from us being miserable.

I would recommend this book for anyone who...
Anyone interested in wellbeing, living a good life, learning about happiness. It’s the perfect starter’s kit.

Connect with Natalie Barker:

www.hellohappiness.com.au

What book changed/ improved/ touched/ awakened your life? The book that has changed and improved my life on a daily basiis Miracle Morning by Hal Elrod.  What did it teach you? This book helped me get more aligned and connected to myself! A friend of mine offered it to me for my birthday and I hadn't read a good book in a long time. I didn't know that it was on self development and now I can say that it is pretty much a bible. I underlined the sentences and quotes that resonated with me, and downloaded the app that is suggested for daily affirmations! This book has had an incredibly positive impact on my life. I would recommend this book for anyone who... Anyone who is trying to find ways to keep on the right track, to stay balanced or to feel more motivated. Connect with Caroline Pelland: www.thefrenchienomad.com 

What book changed/ improved/ touched/ awakened your life?

The book that has changed and improved my life on a daily basiis Miracle Morning by Hal Elrod. 

What did it teach you?

This book helped me get more aligned and connected to myself! A friend of mine offered it to me for my birthday and I hadn't read a good book in a long time. I didn't know that it was on self development and now I can say that it is pretty much a bible. I underlined the sentences and quotes that resonated with me, and downloaded the app that is suggested for daily affirmations! This book has had an incredibly positive impact on my life.

I would recommend this book for anyone who...

Anyone who is trying to find ways to keep on the right track, to stay balanced or to feel more motivated.

Connect with Caroline Pelland:

www.thefrenchienomad.com 

What book changed/ improved/ touched/ awakened your life? There have been many but I will have to go with Shawn Achor's The Happiness Advantage as it's the book that introduced me to positive psychology and started me on the path that turned me into the Happyologist®. What did it teach you? Happiness is a daily choice - and the more you choose it, the easier it is to repeat the choice. I would recommend this book for anyone who... This book is great if you want a nice introduction to some of the most effective positive psychology practices and if you're looking for inspiration in taking it to your workplace. Connect with Susanna Halonen: www.happyologist.co.uk

What book changed/ improved/ touched/ awakened your life?

There have been many but I will have to go with Shawn Achor's The Happiness Advantage as it's the book that introduced me to positive psychology and started me on the path that turned me into the Happyologist®.

What did it teach you?

Happiness is a daily choice - and the more you choose it, the easier it is to repeat the choice.

I would recommend this book for anyone who...

This book is great if you want a nice introduction to some of the most effective positive psychology practices and if you're looking for inspiration in taking it to your workplace.

Connect with Susanna Halonen:

www.happyologist.co.uk

What book changed/ improved/ touched/ awakened your life? The Catcher in the Rye (J D Salinger) What did it teach you? Growing up can be hard; too often involves becoming “phoney”; and that we should try to hold on to our innocence and authenticity as long as we can! I would recommend this book for anyone who... Anyone who’s interested in self-discovery and self-development and who believes in the value of genuine individuality! Connect with Tim Sharp:  www.drhappy.com.au

What book changed/ improved/ touched/ awakened your life?

The Catcher in the Rye (J D Salinger)

What did it teach you?

Growing up can be hard; too often involves becoming “phoney”; and that we should try to hold on to our innocence and authenticity as long as we can!

I would recommend this book for anyone who...

Anyone who’s interested in self-discovery and self-development and who believes in the value of genuine individuality!

Connect with Tim Sharp: 

www.drhappy.com.au


We hope some the books in this list land in your lap at just the right moment and touch your life with their wisdom and insight. 

We'd love to hear your thoughts on any books that have touched/opened/awakened or changed your life -- please share in the comments below. 

Warm wishes for the new year,

Kass and Alicia x

Sick of Playing It Small?

Where in your life are you playing small?

Whether it's at work, in your relationship or at home - fear and self-doubt are never far behind. How many times have you had a big idea or a great opportunity, and before you know it fear pops up.  Naturally  we avoid, retreat, delay, procrastinate or make excuses.

We feel relieved in the short term, but over time we end up feeling stuck. To move forward with our lives, we need to meet challenges and opportunities with courage instead of avoidance. 

The difficulty is that we’re often faced with challenges we haven’t encountered before, so understandably we doubt ourselves. A job opportunity comes up at work or a chance to ask someone out on a date... but the "I've never done that before" excuse comes up.


Luckily, there are many people (not so different from ourselves) who have encountered and moved through similar fears. Knowing who you admire (e.g. A family member who started a business, a friend who had the courage to leave a bad relationship, Oprah, Nelson Mandela, the Dalai Lama) and why you admire them (e.g. because they stood up for what they believed in, because they took a chance,  because they don't care what other people think) can help to inspire us and pull us forward

As Gretchen Rubin so eloquently put it... 

“Knowing what you admire in others is a wonderful mirror into your deepest, as yet unborn self”.

In other words, what you see in the people you look up to, is a reflection of your own (perhaps unseen) potential. 

These brilliant spirits and noble souls are also fallible humans who stumbled, doubted themselves and started out somewhere (perhaps in circumstances similar to your own). Nevertheless, they rose, overcame and triumphed. And perhaps, what has been possible for them is also possible for you. 

The beauty of knowing who you admire and why – is that you can call on their strengths and qualities in moments of self-doubt or personal challenge. As you use these strengths, they become your own. 

Take a moment to consider:

How fear or doubt has held you back in your life? (e.g. Maybe you've avoided going for a promotion, leaving a bad relationship, starting up your own blog or going on that trip you've been dreaming of for years)

Now, ask yourself:

What would my hero do right here, right now?

Perhaps they'd email their boss and ask for that promotion, make time to sit down and have that difficult conversation, or book a one-way ticket to that place they've been longing to go. 

By asking yourself the simple question “What would my hero do right, here right now?" you can start to live with greater courage, water the seeds of your unseen potential and over time grow into your very own hero.

So go on, be like Beyonce!

Give More, Be Happier

The New York Subway is a constant source of amazement to me.

It’s a microcosm of society with all walks of life, where you see some fascinating and some truly heartbreaking things.

Amongst it all, the thing that stands out the most to me is the incredible generosity shown by transiting New Yorkers.

New York has the highest percentage of homelessness in the America, with over 60,000 people currently homeless, with one-third of that made up of children. 

Struggling to make ends meet, these people get on the subway to ask people for anything that they’re willing to give. People hand over money, give them food, water, or even the coffee out of their hand. Given how much New Yorkers love their coffee, that could be considered an enormous act of kindness.

Amazingly, people respond with the same compassion day after day. 

Why?

Sure they’re good-hearted people. But people also like to give because it feels good.

People often mistakenly think that the more I get, consume, own - the happier I'll be. Sure, if you go from being homeless to living comfortably, your happiness will skyrocket. But once your basic needs are met the research shows that accumulating more has very little impact on your happiness.

In fact, studies show that when it comes to lasting happiness, it isn't what you've got, it's what you give. That's exactly what Prof Elizabeth Dunn and colleagues from the University of British Columbia found when students were given money to either spend on themselves or someone else. Those who spent it on others reported feeling happier in comparison to those who spent it on themselves. 

 

No one has ever become poor by giving - Anne Frank

 

A ton of research has been done on the positive effects associated with altruism... and some of them are pretty surprising.

Doing something for someone else can not only improve your physical health, it can also reduce feelings of depression, improve your romantic relationships, help you fight addiction, enhance your financial standing, and even improve your life expectancy.

When we give to others, the pleasure center of our brain lights up like a Christmas tree and our brains release a surge of endorphins.  Scientist call this warm and fuzzy feeling the “helpers high".

Interestingly, the region of our brain associated with social connection and trust is also activated when we’re kind to others. Professor Sonja Lyubomirksy suggests that this makes us like ourselves and other people more.

The benefits of altruism aren’t restricted to the person giving kindness or receiving kindness. James Fowler and Nicholas Christakis from Harvard University found that altruistic acts positively impact the giver and anyone witnessing the act of kindness.

As a result, an act of kindness can lead to a cascade of social consequences, impacting dozens of people at a time. Witnessing or even hearing about an act of kindness increases the likelihood of you engaging in a random act of kindness yourself.

So why not try doing something kind for someone else – and spread some happiness for them, for you and for anyone else watching on.

If you need some inspiration, here’s a sweet little video of acts of kindness.

May you keep happiness in sight xx

For more on the science behind kindness - check out these two videos. Sorry about the promotional nature of them (you're welcome Orly Wahba). 

References:

Dunn, E. W., Aknin, L. B., & Norton, M. I. (2008). Spending money on others promotes happiness. Science319(5870), 1687-1688.

Fowler, J. H., & Christakis, N. A. (2010). Cooperative behavior cascades in human social networks. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America107(12), 5334–5338. http://doi.org/10.1073/pnas.0913149107

The Night Shift

The Night Shift

How often do you come home at the end of the day with work circling around in your head? You feel totally exhausted, yet you can’t sleep because you’re going over your to-do list, stressing over the things you didn’t get done during the day, or re-living the things you wish you’d done differently… the list is endless (as you well know).

8 Easy Ways to Improve Your Emotional Resilience

8 Easy Ways to Improve Your Emotional Resilience

Want to learn how to improve your emotional resilience? 

We all have those days when we get upset or frustrated by almost anything, even when we’re trying our best to manage our emotions. While we all have an innate level of resilience that helps us navigate life’s struggles, certain things (that we often overlook) can undermine our ability to bounce back.