To celebrate the fact that all of Robbie’s books are now available directly from the NLP School website, this week’s post takes a look at a few other brilliant personal development books, and how they can help you during the lockdown.
To find out more about Robbie’s books, click HERE or visit https://www.nlpschool.com/publication/.
We all know the joke: that the British offer tea as a solution to every problem. Feeling ill? Have a cup of tea. Lost your job? I’ll put the kettle on. Relationship problems? Milk, two sugars, right?
Well, I’m like that, except with books. A friend in crisis can expect both a shoulder and a book to cry on. I’ll give advice. Then reference it in full, and follow up with some hard copies in the post.
In my world, there’s a book for every problem. Which is how I’ve ended up with a growing catalogue of personal development texts.
As the lockdown stretches on, emotional problems are amplified through uncertainty, a lack of social contact and external chaos.
So I’ve picked out some common areas that people are experiencing problems in right now — happiness, fear, productivity, relationships and dealing with change/adversity — and provided some bibliotherapy for each.
1. For More Happiness in Your Life — Try The Happiness Project by Gretchen Ruben
Gretchen Ruben was an uninspired lawyer, when she discovered a common complaint in her own life: on the outside, she had everything. But, despite this, she was unhappy.
So she took matters into her own hands, and launched a year-long Happiness Project. Over the course of the year, she researched new ways to be happy, from Positive Psychology to Zen Buddhism. Understanding that big change is made up of small acts, done over and over again, Ruben dedicated an entire month to each different kind of happiness.
So March was for increasing happiness in work. June was for better friendships and February was for romantic relationships.
The result is a wholistic view of happiness. A how-to guide to improving your happiness across the board — whether the “problem” is a concrete one, or just a niggling sense that things could be better.
- “What you do every day matters more than what you do once in a while”
- “I didn’t want to wait for a crisis to remake my life”
- “Although we presume that we actbecause of the way we feel, in fact we often feel because of the way we act”
2. For Better Relationships With Yourself and Others— Try Attached by Amir Levine and Rachel S. F. Heller
This is the self-help book that launched a thousand self-help books in my life. It’s an excellent tool for better-understanding your relationships, whether romantic or otherwise, and yourself.
According to Attached, there are three main relationship types. Anxious, Avoidant and Secure.
- Anxious people worry a lot in relationships. They want more closeness than they get. They tend to assume the worst, and easily feel insecure.
- Avoidant people tend to feel suffocated in relationships, which, to them, feel like a constant battle for independence.
- Secure people are just as comfortable with giving closeness in a relationship as they are with providing space.
This book is great for figuring out which type you are (you can also do that here), which type your partner is, what your behavioural patterns and triggers are, and how to avoid them. It’ll also help you become more Secure yourself, and know a Secure partner when you find one.
- “You are only as Anxious as your unmet needs”
- “The trick is not to get hooked on the highs and lows and mistake an activated attachment system for passion or love. Don’t let emotional unavailability turn you on.”
- “Instead of thinking how you can change yourself in order to please your partner, as so many relationship books advise, think: Can this person provide what Ineed in order to be happy?”
3. For Change, Wisdom & Perspective — Try Man’s Search for Meaning by Viktor E. Frankl
Viktor Frankl was an Auschwitz survivor. Afterwards, he created Logotherapy — a new field of psychotherapy based on these experiences, which prioritises a search for purpose and meaning in one’s own life.
This book is quite short for something so profound, at around 200 pages. The first half is dedicated to Frankl’s experiences in the concentration camp. The second portion is dedicated to his own philosophy and musings on life and purpose.
It is a brilliant book for anyone who wants to understand the human capacity to deal with change, uncertainty and suffering, and it is truly inspirational in its message and delivery. It’s a great book to accompany you in periods of change, and it will teach you how to use these transitions as launchpads for something greater, both in yourself and in the world around you.
- “When we are no longer able to change a situation, we are challenged to change ourselves”
- “Everything can be taken from a man but one thing: the last of the human freedoms — to choose one’s attitude in any given set of circumstances, to choose one’s own way”
- “Those who have a ‘why’ to live, can bear with almost any ‘how’”
- “Fear makes come true that which one is afraid of”
- “An abnormal reaction to an abnormal situation is normal behaviour”
- “For success, like happiness, cannot be pursued; it must ensue […] as the unintended side-effect of one’s personal dedication to a cause greater than oneself”
4. For Overcoming Anxiety and Fear — Try Feel the Fear…and Do It Anyway by Susan Jeffers
If you feel held back by fear, or doubt your ability to overcome any situation, then this is the book for you. Jeffers’ humorous style is inspiring and empowering, while her exercises and practical tips help put her teachings into action.
The book is a well-rounded look at overcoming fear. It covers everything, from how we speak (e.g. I can’t = disempowering; I won’t = empowering) to how we entrap ourselves in the comfort zone. There’s also a chapter on decision-making, and how using fear to make decisions might not be the way to go (she gives good alternatives instead).
So if you find your predominant mood right now to be a fearful one, this might be a good book to look into.
- “Every time you encounter something that forces you to “handle it,” your self-esteem is raised considerably. You learn to trust that you will survive, no matter what happens. And in this way your fears are diminished immeasurably”
- “If you knew you could handle anything that came your way, what would you possibly have to fear? The answer is: nothing!”
- “All my life I have never heard a mother call out to her child as he or she goes off to school, “Take a lot of risks today, darling.” She is more likely to convey to her child, “Be careful, darling.” This “Be careful” carries with it a double message: “The world is really dangerous out there” … and … “you won’t be able to handle it.” What Mom is really saying, of course, is, “If something happens to you, I won’t be able to handle it.” You see, she is only passing on her lack of trust in her ability to handle what comes her way.”
5. For Improved Productivity — Try Flow by Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi
Flow is a term describing those moments when you’re completely absorbed in what you’re doing. They can arise at any time — when you’re cleaning, exercising, working, reading, writing etc. But harnessing these states is key to improving your productivity and general wellbeing, according to Csikszentmihalyi.
Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi, is considered to be one of the co-founders of positive psychology, and was the first person to identify and research these Flow states. Cultivating them is, according to the book, crucial to excellence in any field.
This book will teach you how to do just that. From the importance of minimising distractions if you want to experience Flow, to the right balance between challenge and ability, Csikszentmihalyi guides his readers through the best ways to improve your motivation, productivity, creativity and abilities by inducing Flow states.
- “Control of consciousness determines the quality of life.”
- “To overcome the anxieties and depressions of contemporary life, individuals must become independent of the social environment to the degree that they no longer respond exclusively in terms of its rewards and punishments. To achieve such autonomy, a person has to learn to provide rewards to herself. She has to develop the ability to find enjoyment and purpose regardless of external circumstances.”
- “Most enjoyable activities are not natural; they demand an effort that initially one is reluctant to make. But once the interaction starts to provide feedback to the person’s skills, it usually begins to be intrinsically rewarding.”
- “Few things are sadder than encountering a person who knows exactly what he should do, yet cannot muster enough energy to do it.”
- “Everything we experience — joy or pain, interest or boredom — is represented in the mind as information. If we are able to control this information, we can decide what our lives will be like.”
Here’s Csikszentmihalyi’s TED Talk, if you want to find out more about this.
Even though we are restricted in what we can currently do externally, there are no limits to the changes that we can create within. In the words of Viktor Frankl, “the last of human freedoms [is] the ability to chose one’s attitude in a given set of circumstances”.
With that in mind, I hope that you will find these books helpful in these times of uncertainty, transition and change.
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