I’ve talked openly about my struggles with anxiety and depression in the past on this blog. I’ve also talked about my love for reading and how we can gain lessons and knowledge from every book we read. I posted in May about how there were several books that I thought gave me different outlooks on life at the beginning of the lockdowns due to the pandemic (Take a Look, It’s in a Book). Unfortunately, personal stressors throughout the year have taken away my focus on being mindful of my thoughts and perspective. My life has calmed down to a certain extent, which has allowed me to focus on the important things in life, including my mental health. It’s always been a resolution of mine to improve my mental health and mindfulness in the new year, but I feel like it’s crucial to start this journey with the anxieties brought on by the COVID-19 pandemic.
I started this project at the beginning of the month (December 2020), figuring that if the majority of my time would be spent in the house for an extended period of time, I might as well mesh my personal goals with one of my favorite hobbies. I have chosen 25 books (and counting) with which to draw different lessons from. By no means is this project a call for attention but instead to bring an awareness around mental health, self-improvement, and mindfulness. I will make sure to post about this project weekly in addition to my other posts. It’s great if you gain any insights through the points and lessons that I think would help me in my journey. If you don’t gain any insights, but instead add another book to your reading list, that’s great too. If you just want to follow along, also great.
I’ve read two books thus far on this expedition: ABCs for Life: 26 Principles for Success and Happiness by James Ball and After the Rain by Alexandra Elle. ABCs for Life was a short book, but really showed that the principles discussed are those that can be used to live with purpose. I will admit A & B didn’t have any effect on me, but C through Z did. Every action that you take and every word that comes out of your mouth has a meaning for those you interact with and for yourself. It’s cliché, but everything happens for a reason, including everything you do and say.
After the Rain has become one of my favorite books dedicated to self-improvement. This book had a profound effect on me as many of the things that Ms. Elle discussed in her book were relatable to me. There were many lessons that I learned, including the fact that the road to self-improvement and self-actualization is an evolution, takes time, and comes with accountability. It’s important that we know that loving ourselves comes from the thought that the effort isn’t wasted. Elle stated that she is the “gardener of [her] destiny”. The author says that to heal, it’s crucial to “[let] go of what was and dedicate myself to what is”. I’ve struggled with holding grudges throughout my life, but as I grow older, I start to realize that holding grudges and being hateful takes more effort than just releasing that negativity, especially towards myself. One of the biggest takeaways from the book was that it’s okay to have bad days now and then, but don’t let it be every day. I think it’s so true when she says in perhaps having a discussion with her younger self: “I would tell her it’s fine to be a mess. It’s good, even. An immense amount of magic can be found in the chaotic moments we encounter”. It’s important to note as well that “…I can heal the damaged parts of myself by releasing attachments to things I cannot change and letting go of the notion that I have to figure out my sorrow.” I would highly recommend this book to anyone looking to improve their mindfulness and mental health. You will not be disappointed.
I have several other books on this list with which I will provide my takeaways, which are listed below. Stay tuned next week for the next book, which will be I’ve Been Thinking…: Reflections, Prayers, and Meditations for a Meaningful Life by Maria Shriver.