When I feel that I’m not actively trying to grow, — specifically to find, honor, and improve myself, — I feel all kinds of terrible. These books have shown me what being a better version of me might look like.
Self-Reliance, by Ralph Waldo Emerson
I have gone back to this essay many times throughout my adult life. It reminds me to trust and follow my own instincts, to carve my own path, and to not let the expectations of society suffocate who I really am.
“To believe your own thought, to believe that what is true for you in your private heart is true for all men, — that is genius.”
What I’d Say To The Martians: And Other Veiled Threats, by Jack Handey
At thirteen I created my first website, mostly in honor of Jack Handey’s Deep Thoughts from Saturday Night Live. My pals and I would go to the library’s computer, pull up the website, and lose our minds — they were the funniest things we had ever read. This book has some of those same Deep Thoughts, but it’s mostly filled with random musings. 90% of this book makes me laugh out loud. In summary, I still have the sense of humor of a thirteen-year-old.
“When you tell people you have voices in your head they think you’re crazy. But when you don’t say anything at all, and you just sit there and stare at them, they also think you’re crazy. So you can’t win.”
The Alchemist, by Paulo Coelho
This book is a big giant metaphor for following your heart. It’s an easy and inspiring read. It’s a classic. Read it at least once.
“‘Everyone believes the world’s greatest lie…’ says the mysterious old man. ‘What is the world’s greatest lie?’ the little boy asks. The old man replies, ‘It’s this: that at a certain point in our lives, we lose control of what’s happening to us, and our lives become controlled by fate. That’s the world’s greatest lie.’”
The Untethered Soul: The Journey Beyond Yourself, by Michael Singer
This book has helped me begin to understand how my mind works, specifically the relationship I have with my own thoughts and emotions. Our mind is the most powerful thing we’ll ever know, and has the most impact on our entire life, yet so few of us westerners are ever taught about it at all, much less how to manage it.
“There is nothing more important to true growth than realizing that you are not the voice of the mind — you are the one who hears it.”