It is spring, the days are getting longer, I’m enjoying my evening beach walks and I feel great.
Noticing how great I’m feeling now, I realised, I hadn’t been feeling so great through winter. Nothing was bothering me in particular, I just felt a bit flat and unmotivated. I was stuck in a rut.
Fortunately, a change of season was all I needed to switch gears and feel excited about life again. Lucky me. Lifting yourself out of a rut isn’t always so easy. If you’re searching for help to get going again, I’d like to point you toward three books I found really helpful when I felt blah and lost.
Each book guides you through a series of actions to reorientate your life. What I really appreciate about all three books is the emphasis on experimentation. Each offers some general principles along with a range of bite-size exercises designed to get you trying new things or thinking in a different way, rather than a blueprint to be followed.
Destination Simple by Brooke McAlary
When you’re stuck in a rut, you’re often so busy going through the motions you don’t have the time and space to identify what’s wrong, let alone address it.
Brooke McAlary’s Destination Simple is a pocket-sized guide to slowing the hell down. Built around the philosophy that how we spend our days is how we spend our lives, Destination Simple focuses on simple daily activities to create a calmer, more intentional life.
The exercises McAlary recommends take mere minutes (mostly 1 – 5, none more than 30) and there is no meditation required. The exercises can very easily be incorporated into your day, no matter how busy you are.
If you struggle with work-life balance, you’ll find the section on “tilting” a welcome relief.
Great for: when you’re stuck on a hamster wheel and you want to get off.
How To Live A Good Life by Jonathan Fields
I admit it, sometimes I wake up in the morning and think, “Is this it?”. Usually, it’s not immediately on waking, rather in the midst of a crazy stoush with my son over how he wants his banana peeled today, but you know what I mean. I’m a privileged person, the world is my oyster. I have everything to be grateful for, no major crises, but life just kind of sucks.
How To Live a Good Life provides practical exercises (Fields calls them explorations) to propel yourself from treading water to cruising along swimmingly.
Fields conceptualises personal well-being as comprised of three buckets – vitality (mind and body), connection (relationships) and contribution (life’s work). Keeping these buckets full is the key to optimal well-being. The book contains 10 explorations designed to replenish each bucket. There’s a quiz at the start to help you identify which bucket of your most urgently need to top up.
It’s all presented in an upbeat manner, with plenty of inspiring anecdotes and a smattering of research. Most of the explorations aren’t too heavy – more prompts to look below the surface a little or give something new a try. I can now say, from experience, that green smoothies are not for me!
If you have a reading list of self-improvement books as long as your arm, How to Live A Good Life, gets you over the hook. The book covers the core concepts and exercises from a range of popular self improvement books, including Flourish, Mindset, Quiet, The Five Love Languages, in a very accessible way.
Great for: when you can’t quite put your finger on why you feel so blah and you want to get your mojo back.
Finding Your Element by Ken Robinson
Without this book, you wouldn’t be reading this – not just this particular post, but this blog. The exercises in Finding Your Element prompted me to start this blog in the process of finding my own element.
What is your element and why would you want to find it? Robinson defines your element as the place where the things you love to do and the things you are good at come together – where passion meets aptitude.
Finding Your Element is a practical guide to discovering your personal passions and natural talents. Intermingled with stories of people who are living their element, are a series of exercises to draw out what you are good at and what you love to do. The exercises provide a gentle, step-by-step process of self-analysis and introspection, and encourage you to look outward and explore opportunities in the world around you to uncover your passions (which in my case, included starting to blog).
Good for:when you’re stuck in an occupation you hate and don’t know what to do about it.
What are some of your favourite self-improvement books? I’m always looking for a recommendation.