There’s something about a fresh new year that makes us feel hopeful. Many people start off the year with a resolution: to lose weight, travel more, get a better job, find love, etc. I’m not a big believer in making resolutions specifically at the beginning of the year. I like to set them whenever I think of them, and I call them “goals.”
But if you’re thinking about resolutions, or making changes, or setting goals, I have a few books you might want to take a look at.
- This Year I Will… How to Finally Change A Habit, Keep a Resolution, Or Make A Dream Come True, by MJ Ryan This is a great step-by-step guide to how to actually form a new habit, and why willpower and desire to change aren’t enough. It goes into some of the science of how our brains work to form new habits. She breaks it down into chapters, so that you can work on one skill before moving to the next.
- Habit Changers: 61 Game-Changing Mantras to Mindfully Realize Your Goals, by MJ Ryan I’m all about using a small quote as motivation. I’m someone who’ll get caught up in old habits and actually forget I’m trying to change. Having a mantra can help keep me on my toes because I’m more likely to remember that than a long drawn out internal dialog explanation of why something should change.
- Happy Money: The Science of Happier Spending, by Elizabeth Dunn & Michael Norton We all want to be happier; that’s what most resolutions boil down to. If I were thinner, I’d be happier. If I were more fit, I’d be happier. If I had a better job… You get the idea. Happy Money talks about the ways that money can buy happiness, and you don’t need a lot of it in order to do it. You just need to be smarter about purchases.
- The Happiness Project: Or, Why I Spent a Year Trying to Sing in the Morning, Clean My Closets, Fight Right, Read Aristotle, and Generally Have More Fun, by Gretchen Rubin I really enjoyed this book and the little experiments she did. There is a lot to learn from her example, though I certainly don’t think everyone needs to focus on one goal a month for a year. Though, then again, why not? It would be more effective than trying to start everything at once on January 1.
- Who Moved My Cheese? An Amazing Way to Deal with Change in Your Work and in Your Life by Spencer Johnson This parable is short, to the point, and endlessly discussable. It’s the story of 4 mice and how they dealt with the “cheese” being moved. Change is hard for everyone but inevitable. So how we deal with it really does inform the amount of stress in our lives.
- Big Magic: Creative Living Beyond Fear, by Elizabeth Gilbert I read this at the urging of Ramona over at While I Was Reading. I was feeling stuck and uninspired with writing. I felt kind of the same about my whole life and needed something to help me get unstuck. This book was great for that. I’m a firm believer that everyone needs a creative outlet in order to be their best selves, whatever that creative outlet might be. This book is lovely encouragement that with creative pursuits, it’s the doing that’s important, not how good you are.
- When Breath Becomes Air, by Paul Kalanithi Dr. Kalanithi was a neurosurgeon, and only 36 year old when he was diagnosed with Stage IV lung cancer. Before he died, he wrote this book to talk about the transformation in his understanding of what it is to live a meaningful life. It was profoundly affecting. When goal setting, I think it’s important to ask yourself, “What’s actually important about this goal? What does it mean to me?” While this book doesn’t directly address any of this, I think it will make you take a closer look at what brings meaning to you.
- Man’s Search For Meaning, by Viktor Frankl I will recommend this book over and over in any situation or circumstance because it applies to everyone. Viktor Frankl was a psychiatrist working on a book when he was sent to a Nazi death camp. While surviving there, he maintains that his purpose, finishing his book, is part of what kept him alive. The first half of the book is a memoir about his time in the concentration camp, and the second half is is philosophy on life. It’s important for people who want to live a better life to assess what creates meaning for them.
- Start Where You Are: A Journal For Self-Exploration, by Meera Lee Patel I don’t you necessarily need this book (or any other) to journal. But if you’re new to it, this has some interesting prompts, and it’s set up in an attractive way. Each page has a quote or mantra that relates to the prompt. While I don’t think that people have to keep a diary they write in every day, I do think journals can be a positive tool for wellness. Writing things down is powerful, and journaling goals and resolutions can be a positive step toward keeping them. Knowing thyself can help identify patterns of behavior and why you are (or aren’t) following through with what you think you want.
- Pollyanna, by Eleanor M. Porter What’s this book doing on the list? A positive attitude goes a long way in life. I believe that. Pollyanna’s “glad game” is just another way of saying “be grateful,” but I love the way this book presents it. Some people will find it saccharine, but I think it should be required reading for all people. In fact, just read every book on this list. It’s good for you. 🙂
Do you have any books you’d add to this list? Any you disagree with?