Surface versus substance.
Over the weekend I took a long-time friend a chocolate rum mousse cake picked up at a trusted bakery in Portland. Paired with a pot of tea, we settled in at her home to celebrate her birthday and catch up. The crust was a blend of chocolate crumbled cookies and the mousse was light as air, yet intensely full of layers of flavor from the high quality chocolate and rum. Topped with just a smidge of Chantilly cream, with each bite, eyelids closed without my permission, and I sighed with pleasure . . . over a bite of chocolate rum mousse cake.
Yes, on the surface, while sitting in the bakery window, the cake invited passersby to give it a try as it was uniform and tidy in its presentation, but the substance, how and with what ingredients it was made, produced a culinary experience for the tastebuds to hold you in the present, savoring each bite, of which few were needed as the ingredients satiated even the most dessert-craving appetite.
Substance matters for deep satisfaction, not only in what we eat but with how we engage with life.
But how do we get there? How can we actually go below the surface and continue to navigate in a world that more often than not wants to pull us back up to the surface, enticing us to buy one more of these, purchase one more of those, do this action, follow this trend, perfect this craft and THEN we will be happy? We dedicate ourselves to becoming a student of our being, our mind, all that we have control over if only we would take the time to read the manual of how everything works.
On the blog, you can peruse all of the books I have recommended over the years, but today, in this post, I wanted to share 12 books I recommend reading over the course of the next 12 months if you are seeking more substance: more substance as it pertains to your peace of mind, your decisions, your relationships of all types, your choices in your career, the risks you take, the comfort you find sitting still and just being due to the contentment you have cultivated.
Each of the following books have been life-changers for me and my own life journey, and most, if not all, I have read more than once. Each book offers concrete tools and skills, examples and explanations to not only encourage but teach you how to welcome the change that will usher in the ability to go deeper in your everyday experience of living in your own company, when connecting with others and how you engage with the world around you.
When we live more deeply, we want less. We slow down and take in all that is going well more readily and without a feeling of lack. When we live more deeply, we bring with us a clarity of how to take part in life without controlling it and finding comfort in the gift of the unknown.
So here we go! In no particular order:
Calm Clarity: How to Use Science to Rewire Your Brain for Greater Wisdom, Fulfillment and Joy by Due Quach
—read this book to understand exactly how your mind works in an approachable way and stop beating yourself up for temporary mental regressions. Instead, come to understand the three types of brain mindsets, how to identify them and move to the most desired practice to find the peace you seek.
—read this book if want to understand the ‘How’ of being present
The Three Marriages: Reimagining Work, Self and Relationship by David Whyte
—read this book to get to the soul, to the core of trusting your intuition about what work to pursue, how to love and let love in and how to honor yourself.
Nonviolent Communication: A Language of Life: Life-Changing Tools for Healthy Relationships by Dr. Marshall B. Rosenberg
—read this book to learn how to communicate well and effectively in the most emotionally-charged situations – personal, work, community, etc.
—read this book to strengthen your current and future romantic relationships. Not only will you learn how to be fully loving but be able to assess if someone else is being fully loving toward you and how to communicate your needs thus determining whether to continue to invest in the relationship.
When: The Scientific Secrets of Perfect Timing by Daniel Pink
—read this book to better understand your physiology and daily rhythms of energy so you aren’t fighting yourself but rather working with and honoring your needs.
Daring To Trust: Opening Ourselves to Real Love and Intimacy by David Richo
—read this book to learn how to trust yourself, the world, discover who you can trust and how to be trustworthy.
Attached: The New Science of Adult Attachment and How It Can Help You Find and Keep Love by Amir Levine and Rachel Heller
—read this book to better understand yourself and how you engage or disengage when it comes to relationships. Then continue to read it to learn how to be a Secure individual in life and in relationships to ensure healthy connections as you move forward.
The Way of Integrity: Finding the Path to Your True Self by Martha Beck
—read this book to understand why you feel the angst following a path that doesn’t feel right for your life journey and for the courage to step bravely onto the path that is right for you.
—read this book to better understand your mind (pair with Calm Clarity mentioned above), gain specific tools for bringing awareness of your thoughts to your daily life in order to live well in the everyday.
The French Art of Not Trying Too Hard by Ollivier Pourriol
—read this book to become more grounded in the present so that you refrain from living in the future and tap into what you deeply love doing and sharing with the world.
—read this book to understand how actual happiness is attained rather than what society sells you as being the path to acquiring happiness.
The Conquest of Happiness by Bertrand Russell
—read this book to get out of your own way when it comes to experiencing true happiness.
The Untethered Soul: The Journey Beyond Yourself by Michael A. Singer
—read this book to better understand your inner-self and recognize how to free yourself from unhelpful limiting thoughts, habits, emotions and energy patterns.
The War of Art: Break Through the Blocks and Win Your Inner Creative Battles by Steven Pressfield
—read this book for a quick, simple, yet thought-provoking exploration of first, being able to acknowledge the path you want to take if only you had the courage; and second, finding inspiration to step forward bravely on that path.
The Courage to Be Disliked by Ichiro Kishimi and Fumitake Koga
—read this book to find the courage, confidence and peace of mind to be fully who you are and honor your truth while letting others be themselves.
I know, I promised 12 books and I shared 15, but once I went to my bookshelf to pull off the books that spoke to me, awakened me to a deeper realization that became fundamentally crucial in making important, life-elevating change in my life, I couldn’t stop at 12 and had to add two more which definitely helped during my journey thus far.
Whether you read one book (or two for two months) or snuggle in this winter and read as many as you can before spring pulls you outside, if you are looking for substantive grounding of your being, clear understanding and beneficial, yes, life-changing tools to work with your mind, I promise your life will change for the better after reading these books. You will find yourself, so long as you have the courage to apply what you learn in a way that honors your true self, making decisions that honor a path you feel fortunate to be on, experiencing deeper, more breath-taking moments with others and in your own company as you soak up the awesomeness around you. You will find a steady calm no matter what is swirling around in the world about you.
Wishing you many awe-inspired aha moments as you turn the pages.
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