I’m an avid reader and have read several books over the years that helped me cope during difficult moments of my life. Here’s some of my favourites, with a brief description and a quote. Enjoy!
1. The Mindfulness Solution by Ronald Siegel
This book is probably my favourite one when it comes to the topic of mindfulness. Mindfulness can help you navigate the ups and down of everyday life. The book is filled with strategies that can help you in different ways, whether it’s coping with emotions, deepening your connection to others or finding relief from physical ailments. Mindfulness is not having a blank mind, becoming emotionless, withdrawing from life, seeking bliss or escaping pain. It’s about bringing awareness to the present moment.
“Mindfulness can help us embrace, rather than resist, the inevitable ups and downs of life and equip us to handle our human predicament.”
2. The Gifts of Imperfection by Brené Brown
I read this book during my first year of university, when I was in the midst of my first midterm season. It is an inspiring book that addresses topics like cultivating courage, compassion and connection. The book talks about shame, authenticity and belonging, as well as how to live a wholehearted life.
“Owning our story can be hard but not nearly as difficult as spending our lives running from it. Embracing our vulnerabilities is risky but not nearly as dangerous as giving up on love and belonging and joy — the experiences that make us the most vulnerable. Only when we are brave enough to explore the darkness will we discover the infinite power of our light.”
3. The Places that Scare You: a guide to fearlessness in difficult times by Pema Chodron
This book comforted me when I was struggling with my mental health. I compare it to receiving a warm hug. The author does a fantastic job sharing her wisdom and provides tools to help us deal with our problems.
“We can let the circumstances of our lives harden us and make us increasingly resentful and afraid, or we can let them soften us and make us kinder.”
4. The Art of Happiness: A Handbook for Living by his holiness the Dalai Lama XIV and Howard C. Cutler, M.D.
I read this book when I was in high school. It’s inspiring and really opened my eyes. The core message is that happiness is the purpose of life and that it is possible to move through life while gaining a source of inner peace.
“If you want others to be happy practice compassion; and if you want yourself to be happy practice compassion.”
5. The Second Mountain: The Quest for a Moral Life by David Brooks
In this book, the author addresses the four commitments that can help us lead a life of meaning and purpose: vocation, marriage, philosophy and faith and community.
“Individualism says, ‘You have to love yourself first before you can love others.’ But the second-mountain ethos says, ‘You have to be loved first so you can understand love, and you have to see yourself actively loving others so that you know you are worthy of love.’ On the first mountain, a person makes individual choices and keeps their options open. The second mountain is a vale of promise making. It is about making commitments, tying oneself down, and giving oneself away.”
6. Self-compassion: the proven power of being kind to yourself by Dr. Kristin Neff
This book is truly invaluable and has taught me everything I know about self-compassion. The author does a great job diving into the research about self-compassion, and also offers tips and exercises that can help you develop your own self-compassion practice.
“Self-compassion is a gift available to anyone willing to open up to themselves. When we develop the habit of self-kindness, suffering becomes an opportunity to experience love and tenderness from within. No matter how difficult things get, we can always wrap our torn and tattered selves in our own soft embrace. We can soothe and comfort our own pain, just as a child is soothed and comforted by her mother’s arms. We don’t have to wait until we are perfect, until life goes exactly as we want it to. We don’t need others to respond with care and compassion in order to feel worthy of love. We don’t need to look outside ourselves for the acceptance and security we cave. This is not to say that we don’t need other people. Of course we do. But who is in the best position to know how you really feel underneath that cheerful façade? Who is most likely to know the full extent of the pain and fear you face, to know what you need most? Who is the only person in your life who is available 24/7 to provide you with care and kindness? You.”
The authors of this column are not mental health professionals. If you need additional support, please contact Student Health Services, the Sexual Assault Support Centre and/or the Wellness Centre. In case of an emergency, call 911.