Life has its ups and downs. Sometimes things are wonderful and life just seems so dreamy. Everything is a blessing and it’s easy to see the bright side of almost any situation, encounter or circumstance. Other times life slips into a valley and things are harder. It’s easy to become upset. I get short on patience while feeling disorganized and unproductive. I can look back on my life growing up and see these natural peaks and valleys, but I think that with pregnancy hormones and postpartum hormones they have felt closer together and in some ways definitely more intense.
Over the years I have accumulated a small number of authors and books that I like to keep close at hand that help me get through these times. They remind me what life is all about and how to be the best version of myself. I thought I’d share them with you in case you are in need of a little inspiration.
Forgiveness & Other Acts Of Love by Stephanie Dowrick – I first came upon this book when I was working at a bookstore at the Customer Service desk. Some random person had put it on hold and the title caught my eye so I browsed through it. I am so glad I did. I have had this book and used it as a reference for maybe fifteen years. I highly recommend keeping it in your arsenal. One of my favorite parts comes in the chapter on Generosity. “It is expressed in these and a thousand other ways. Paying attention to what someone needs, not what you think they need. Always giving the benefit of the doubt. Giving more than is necessary. Paying attention to who is feeling left out, and redeeming that situation. Refusing to pass on hurtful gossip. Letting past hurts slip away. Extending your borders between ‘us’ and ‘them’.”
Being Peace by Thich Nhat Hanh – This book and author were introduced to me several years ago during a course I took on Buddhism. It is very simply written but with profound ideas. Here is one of my favorite quotes,“When you understand, you cannot help but love. You cannot get angry. To develop understanding, you have to practice looking at all living beings with the eyes of compassion. When you understand, you love. And when you love, you naturally act in a way that can relieve the suffering of people.”
The Four Agreements by Don Miguel Ruiz – The Four Agreements have helped me several times over the last few years since my father passed away suddenly. It is interesting to see the different emotions and thoughts one experiences while coping with the loss of a loved one. Anger, frustration, disbelief, resentment, hopelessness, fear, loneliness, etc. I finally asked for and received a copy of this book for Christmas. It sits on my nightstand and sometimes I’ll flip through until I find something that jumps out at me and just read a few paragraphs before I go to sleep.
Anything by Wayne Dyer. I have read several of his books and am currently reading a book by his daughter Serena Dyer entitled, Don’t Die With Your Music Still In You. I am mostly skipping around in it but it’s very interesting and I’m getting a lot out of it.
I think it’s important to fill my mind with positive messages about life, love and understanding. It makes me a better mom, a better teacher, a better wife and I like myself a whole lot more than when I’m being cranky and spreading negativity. I am definitely a work in progress and I always will be, but the messages these books carry helps me feel closer to my true self.
How do you stay positive when life is tough? What are your favorite books or activities that help you stay focused?