Trying to get your groove back? Taking yourself to a new level? As the new year kicks into high gear (February 12th starts the Year of the Horse!), some of your resolutions may be going well. But are others, well, already tossed on the floor with your dirty sweats? Sometimes we need a little more help than simply stating the goal, posting it, and having a friend email us that "You go, Girl!" supportive message. We need expert information.
To the bookshelves I went. There’s certainly no shortage of self-help advice available! A quick check of several area booksellers produced unanimous and amusing results when I asked what books seemed to be the most popular - and successful - if I wanted something to renew myself, upgrade my life, or get my groove back. One clerk said it best, "Every night we have to put away at least half the sex books. If it has pictures or the words 'Joy' or 'Kama Sutra' in the title, people are intrigued. They carry them off, and we find them lying on the floor and all over the store -- the books, that is."
Sex aside, your body is likely to be high on your list of personal winter upgrades. Most of us want to look and feel better whether it’s for work or play. For nearly three years, blue-eyed, body building Bill Phillips’ Body for Life: 12 Weeks to Mental and Physical Strength has been changing the way millions of people eat, work out, and think about their bodies. He does it with positive goal setting, targeted weight training (with explicit photo instructions), basic nutrition counseling, and real life stories.
While Body for Life made waves and a splashy success, Bob and Jean Anderson were quietly readying the 20th anniversary edition of their simple top selling book Stretching. One of the all-time most popular fitness books, Stretching can instruct you in powerful early morning routines that banish stiffness or help you relax at the end of the day. Stretching will also help you establish routines for before and after nearly any athletic activity imaginable, thereby reducing injuries and "day after" soreness. Easy to read text and clean, clear drawings make Stretching a winner.
What are you going to do with the rest of your life? Life Coach Cheryl Richardson asks you to Take Time for Your Life: A Personal Coach’s Seven-Step Program for Creating the Life You Want You can’t help but feel enthused about your new self with Richardson. In her first lesson, she lets you - even encourages you - to be selfish! Extreme self-care is a hallmark of Richardson’s work. Also by Richardson and worth a look is Life Makeovers: 52 Practical & Inspiring Ways to Improve Your Life One Week at a Time.
You’re going to need to know how to pay for that fine new life once you’ve created it. Not to worry. Suze Orman’s The 9 Steps to Financial Freedom: Practical and Spiritual Steps so You Can Stop Worrying is your ticket. Orman is a sage financial advisor. Yet, she is a commensurate storyteller breathing life into a primer on your money. Orman helps you conquer any debts, fears, and issues you may have with money with concrete steps. She then prepares you for accepting abundance. Also by Orman: The Courage to Be Rich, and The Road to Wealth.
Mental health professionals agree that the winter holiday season brings more than resolutions. Many people experience extra stress on strained relationships. Now a classic book by Melody Beattie, Codependent No More: How to Stop Controlling Others and Start Caring for Yourself has helped countless readers to recognize unhealthy behavior (that they thought was being helpful to a partner or an entire family), and subsequently to change. Following the basic tenets of twelve step programs, Beattie gives hope and provides a path for personal recovery.
Likewise, Phillip McGraw offers Relationship Rescue: A Seven-Step Strategy for Reconnecting with Your Partner You’ve seen him. He’s Dr. Phil from Oprah. This is his intensive care manual for couples. There are no guarantees, but this text and the accompanying The Relationship Rescue Workbook: Exercises and Self-Tests to Help You Reconnect With Your Partner provide an in-depth, hands-on do-it-yourself method for strengthening a relationship that is worth saving. Also by Phillip C. McGraw: Life Strategies: Doing What Works, Doing What Matters and The Life Strategies Workbook: Exercises and Self-Tests to Help You Change Your Life.
If all this high-pitched self-help has your head spinning, you may want to slow down. Try Richard Carlson and Joseph Bailey’s Slowing Down to the Speed of Life: How to Create a More Peaceful, Simpler Life from the Inside Out or The Simple Living Guide by Janet Luhrs. Slowing Down is a peaceful read from cover to cover. While Luhrs’ book can be read start to finish, it is meant as a resource guide for the voluntary simplification movement and can be accessed a chapter or two at a time. Each chapter is followed by an extensive resource list.
Maybe your creative soul calls for an outlet. The Artist’s Way: A Spiritual Path to Higher Creativity by Julia Cameron is a twelve-week course that begins by writing daily "morning pages" to clear the mind. These journal entries are the beginning of a metamorphosis that allows Cameron’s students to live each day more creatively. Also recommended by Julia Cameron: Vein of Gold: A Journey to Your Creative Heart.
If You Want to Write: A Book about Art, Independence and Spirit by Brenda Ueland and Writing Down the Bones by Natalie Goldberg are two books that offer advice and support for writers of all skill levels. Bones offers a multitude of writing exercises, sharing a generous helping of artistic energy. Reading Ueland’s If You Want to Write has that genteel feel of sitting down for a cup of tea and a warm cookie with your grandmother late in the afternoon. It’s refreshing, invigorating, and it’s childlike fun. Yet, you know inside you’re being given the gift of wisdom.
On the other hand, writers, artists, and people prone to distraction might find just what they need in View from the Cliff: A Course in Achieving Daily Focus by Lynn Weiss. The most recent of her many books, Weiss has distilled the wealth of her psychotherapy career into a very practical and readable handbook. Weiss’ loyal readers will enjoy introducing newcomers to chapters such as "Anchoring a Drifting Mind" and "Building a Life According to What You Believe." Among the many others by Lynn Weiss, Ph.D.: Attention Deficit Disorder in Adults, and ADD and Creativity.
For those of you who just cannot sit still, this one is for you. It’s Move Your Stuff, Change Your Life: How to Use Feng Shui to Get Love, Money, Respect, and Happiness by Karen Rauch Carter. Learn about feng shui in a very simple, easy to understand, and FUN style. For instance, you’ll find out that keeping broken items in your prosperity corner means being broke, so move ‘em out! Good energy can’t enter your home and circulate when there is too much clutter.
If you’ve got clutter at home or at work, you’ll need Organizing from the Inside Out: The Foolproof System for Organizing Your Home, Your Office, and Your Life by Julie Morgenstern. Your space and time go hand in hand, so you may also want to check out her follow up bestseller, Time Management from the Inside Out. The secret, Morgenstern reveals in both books, is analyze the situation first – then attack the situation. You need to figure out what’s working for you in terms of your space and time as well as what’s not working. Learn the SPACE formula, return to kindergarten to see the nearly perfect organizing model, and discover that time is a huge container for you all of your life.
Making all of these changes in your life – exercise, diet, money, relationship, space, and time – are all going to require working with other people on some level. Enter the late, great Dale Carnegie. His book How to Win Friends and Influence People is a classic (originally written in 1936) for a reason. Carnegie’s stories of real human beings communicating with each other stand the test of time. He illustrates The Golden Rule in three fundamental ways to handle people, six ways to make people like you, twelve ways to win people to your way of thinking, and nine ways to change people without giving offense or arousing resentment. Among many others by Dale Carnegie: How to Stop Worrying and Start Living.
Self-renewal is a lot of work. It might be easier to take it on faith that everything will turn out A-OK for you. But, just what is your faith? Read about one woman’s spiritual journey in Anne Lamott’s memoir Traveling Mercies : Some Thoughts on Faith. Lamott takes a tough, gritty, and at the same time very witty look back at how she came to believe in God and in herself. Among several others by Anne Lamott: Bird by Bird: Some Instructions on Writing and Life.
You could spend your entire day in the self-help section, and spend the entire year reading expert advice for all of your needs. Still on my reading list . . . The Seat of the Soul by Gary Zukav, The Dark Side of the Light Chasers by Debbie Ford, Fearless Creating by Eric Maisel, The Pilates Body by Brooke Siler, and Anna Quindlen’s A Short Guide to a Happy Life. There are hundreds, even thousands of other books available to renew and inspire you.
I hope you will enjoy and benefit from this
selection of some of the most popular, recent and classic tomes designed to help
you get your groove back!