It’s official. I am a self-help book junkie. It’s kind of a difficult thing to admit because it sounds so cheesy. The stigmata that reading self-help books is a sign of weakness or for those with low self esteem may make it difficult to accept. I can’t help but envision the Saturday Night Live skit with Stuart Smalley telling himself in the mirror “I’m good enough. I’m smart enough. And doggone it, people like me.” But I can no longer deny my obsession.
I have always loved reading and psychology, so the jump to the self-help genre really wasn’t that much of a leap. I should have known when I instantly fell in love with such inspirational books as Eat, Pray, Love by Elizabeth Gilbert and The Alchemist by Paulo Coelho. While these are not quite self-help books, they made me think of life in a different way and see my pursuit of happiness as something that I should be more actively taking part in.
Then there was a book on meditation, and then another book, the Art of Happiness which was written jointly by psychiatrist Howard Cutler and the 14th Dalai Lama. Memoirs by other people pursuing their happiness and facing their demons such as The Last Lecture and The Glass Castle also helped to fuel my fire. I moved on to another book on pertaining to meditation, Lovingkindness: The Revolutionary Art of Happiness by Sharon Salzberg. I’ve read The Secret and also Hero, both are by Rhonda Byrne and are part of her series of books that focus on positive thinking and the Law of Attraction. I discovered Deepak Chopra who has several books which also discuss the connection that exists between all things, the great impact of our thoughts on the exterior world, and therefore the importance of positive thinking. One of my most recent favorites is The Mastery of Love: A Practical Guide to the Art of Relationship by Don Miguel Ruiz. This book really made me understand that if we truly love ourselves we will have a limitless well of love to share with others also. I just finished Awake in the World: 108 Practices to Live a Divinely Inspired Life by Debra Moffitt, and I am starting The Amazing Power of Deliberate Intent by Esther and Jerry Hicks.
I think it’s quite obvious that I have an obsession.
I have accepted this fact, though. I am even proud of myself for taking an active part in finding my own peace and happiness by attempting to learn from others. We all have emotional wounds. We all have our own issues to work through. The very term “self-help” implies power and initiative; a person taking responsibility for their own life and happiness and attempting to help themselves. If any person expects to be happy it will take at least some, if not an immense amount, of conscious effort on that person’s part. They do not call it the “pursuit of happiness” because you do nothing and wait for it to happen to you.
I am an altogether inspiration addict. On days when I feel down and slow or just plain depressed, words of beauty and wisdom can touch my heart and remind me that life does not have to be as hard as I sometimes make it or perceive it to be. Simple poetic and philosophical quotes can serve as reminders of how strong and wonderful I am, and be sweet mantras to repeat in my mind as I breathe life into my body.
What effect have all these books and words of inspiration had on my life? Am I a living example of happiness and success? The changes have been monumental, but they are taking place on the inside, which is where all change has to start. I am writing more (alot more). I am healing wounds from years past. I am being better to my body. I am unapologetically making more time for myself and focusing on my health as a whole: mind, body, and spirit. I am more aware of my thoughts and what it is that I’m focusing my time and energy on. I am being more compassionate with myself and loving myself more. I am forgiving and accepting myself on a daily basis, which in turn makes it easier for me to do the same with others. So, I would definitely say that my obsession has atleast been beautifully fruitful.
I will continue along my journey, learning about life and myself and finding the beauty in all of it. I hope to inspire others to do the same. I will not give precedence to the view that attempting to learn about and heal oneself is an act of weakness. On the contrary, it is a great act of bravery. We will all have to heal our own wounds and learn to care for ourselves if we want to find our own peace and happiness.
Maybe someday I’ll even write my own self help-ish book.
“Give me love and nurture me today, and I may still be starving and dying tomorrow.
But teach me to love and truly care for myself, and I may flourish for a lifetime and beyond.”