By Dana Donahue, LCSW
When I was younger, I enjoyed reading all genres of books from mystery and adventure to historical fiction and biographies. No topic was off limits, as reading became a way to relax and separate from the daily stressors of life. When I entered into motherhood and began years of sleepless nights, my love affair with books came to a screeching halt. What previously gave me hours of pleasure became something that lulled me into sleep after just a few paragraphs. It seriously took me three years to read the final book in the Harry Potter series!
As my children grew up and my ability to sleep returned, I was able to indulge in the lost art of reading again. Though I still enjoy reading a wide variety of genres, I found myself drawn to books that bring deeper meaning to my life. Wearing many different hats—those of mother, wife, friend, daughter, and colleague—can be overwhelming at times, so I embarked on a mission to find ways to live with intention, meaning, and happiness. Here are five books that have enriched my understanding of myself and helped me redefine what truly matters in life:
- Daring Greatly by Brene Brown
Being vulnerable in a world where everyone wants to appear strong, confident, and secure is intimidating and difficult. If you want to learn about living life to the fullest, feeling worthy, and having the courage to be yourself, then this book is a must read.
2. You Are A Badass by Jen Shapiro
Full of hilarious and inspiring stories, advice and exercises, this book will help you change the self-sabotaging beliefs and behaviors that stop you from creating the life you want. Though not for the faint of heart, if you can look past the profanity and focus on the message, you will find yourself gaining confidence to figure out what you want and motivation to live a happier life.
3. Hardwiring Happiness by Rick Hanson
This book explores ways to proactively battle negativity and overcome our human tendency to exaggerate the negative by relishing, extending, and prioritizing the good things in life.
4. Option B by Sheryl Sandberg
Written following the sudden death of a spouse, this book is a combination of personal insight and clinical research and highlights ways to move forward after experiencing a traumatic event. Although there is no quick and easy way to cope with tragedy and grief, this book gives a sense of hope that all people can heal from the inevitable setbacks in life.
5. The One Life We’re Given by Mark Nepo
As a cancer survivor, the author illustrates how all aspects of life, including suffering, surprise, loss, and love, can heighten our appreciation of ordinary things and enrich our connections with others.
This is just a small list of all the wonderful and enriching books out there to choose from. Whatever you choose to read, I hope you discover who you are truly meant to be and find ways to enjoy your life. Happy reading!
Learn more about Dana Donahue here.