If you’ve been to my office, you know I have a thing for books. Some may call it an addiction, I prefer to call it a passionate love story — complete with illumination, complication, longing, confusion, belonging, clarity, desire and, of course, love.
There are many classic inspirational books that have guided my life and filled my heart. There are some less well-known but equally nourishing books in my collection.
Here, I’m sharing a few of my favourites for living, healing, creating and loving.
Books for Living
“Instead of a book, what if we’re actually writing (or not writing) in the margins of our lives? What if our lives are books? What is the sign of our presence? Are we pressing into the margins our interpretations and questions?”
“My heart is afraid that it will have to suffer,” the boy told the alchemist one night as they looked up at the moonless sky.” Tell your heart that the fear of suffering is worse than the suffering itself. And that no heart has ever suffered when it goes in search of its dreams.”
“For many of us, feelings of deficiency are right around the corner. It doesn’t take much–just hearing of someone else’s accomplishments, being criticized, getting into an argument, making a mistake at work–to make us feel that we are not okay. Beginning to understand how our lives have become ensnared in this trance of unworthiness is our first step toward reconnecting with who we really are and what it means to live fully.”
“The moment you have in your heart this extraordinary thing called love and feel the depth, the delight, the ecstasy of it, you will discover that for you the world is transformed.”
“When the stories of our life no longer bind us, we discover within them something greater. We discover that within the very limitations of form, of our maleness and femaleness, of our parenthood and our childhood, of gravity on the earth and the changing of the seasons, is the freedom and harmony we have sought for so long.”
“As I cooked in the cauldron of motherhood, the incredible love I felt for my children opened my heart and brought me a much greater understanding of universal love. It made me understand the suffering of the world much more deeply.”
“The more we are able to contact the actual presence that we are, the less we are alienated in a superficial or externally defined identity. The more we know the truth of who we are, the more we can be authentic and spontaneous, rather than merely living through concepts of ourselves.”
“If you do follow your bliss you put yourself on a kind of track that has been there all the while, waiting for you, and the life that you ought to be living is the one you are living. Follow your bliss and don’t be afraid, and doors will open where you didn’t know they were going to be.”
“The only reason we don’t open our hearts and minds to other people is that they trigger confusion in us that we don’t feel brave enough or sane enough to deal with. To the degree that we look clearly and compassionately at ourselves, we feel confident and fearless about looking into someone else’s eyes. ”
“You have to deliberately practice both: power and love, power and love, like walking with your left foot and then your right, over and over. Most business and political systems are characterized by an excess of power over love. There is too much fragmentation. So your first moves have to be love moves, to foster mutual connection and awareness.”
“To overcome the anxieties and depressions of contemporary life, individuals must become independent of the social environment to the degree that they no longer respond exclusively in terms of its rewards and punishments. To achieve such autonomy, a person has to learn to provide rewards to herself. She has to develop the ability to find enjoyment and purpose regardless of external circumstances.”
“We cultivate love when we allow our most vulnerable and powerful selves to be deeply seen and known, and when we honor the spiritual connection that grows from that offering with trust, respect, kindness and affection.
Books for Healing
Women, Food and God: An Unexpected Path to Almost Everything
“To discover what you really believe, pay attention to the way you act — and to what you do when things don’t go the way you think they should. Pay attention to what you value. Pay attention to how and on what you spend your time. Your money. And pay attention to the way you eat.”
“Love is the only way to grasp another human being in the innermost core of his personality. No one can become fully aware of the very essence of another human being unless he loves him. By his love he is enabled to see the essential traits and features in the beloved person; and even more, he sees that which is potential in him, which is not yet actualized but yet ought to be actualized.”
“Being myself allows the wholeness of my unique magnificence to draw me in those directions most beneficial to me and to all others. This is really the only thing I have to do. And within that framework, everything that is truly mine comes into my life effortlessly, in the most magical and unexpected ways imaginable, demonstrating every day the power and love of who I truly am.”
“I actually detest the word happiness which is so overused that it has become almost meaningless. It is an unworkable term for science or for any political goal such as education, therapy, public policy, or just changing your personal life.”
“Try seeing good intentions in strangers walking down the street—or an airport. You’ll see lots of courtesies, efforts to do a good job, desires to understand or be understood, loyalty to friends and causes, fair play, and kindnesses. This practice makes me happy, and gives me a stronger sense of our common humanity.”
“How strange that the nature of life is change, yet the nature of human beings is to resist change. And how ironic that the difficult times we fear might ruin us are the very ones that can break us open and help us blossom into who we were meant to be.”
“After all, this is how you learned how to walk. You didn’t just jump up from your crib one day and waltz gracefully across the room. You stumbled and fell on your face and got up and tried again. At what age are you suddenly expected to know everything and never make any more mistakes? If you can love and respect yourself in failure, worlds of adventure and new experiences will open up before you, and your fears will vanish.”
“Your life will be transformed when you make peace with your shadow. You will no longer have to pretend to be someone you’re not. You will no longer have to prove you’re good enough. When you embrace your shadow you will no longer have to life in fear. Find the gifts of your shadow and you will finally revel in all the glory of your true self. Then you will have the freedom to create the life you have always desired.”
Books For Creating
“No matter what your age or your life path, whether making art is your career or your hobby or your dream, it is not too late or too egotistical or too selfish or too silly to work on your creativity.”
“When [what you are deeply passionate about, what you can be best in the world at and what drives your economic engine] come together, not only does your work move toward greatness, but so does your life. For, in the end, it is impossible to have a great life unless it is a meaningful life.”
“The stars of stickiness are the students who made their case by telling stories, or by tapping into emotion, or by stressing a single point rather than ten.”
“The concept of deferred gratification, or sacrificing now to save for the future, can be helpful in setting aside money in a retirement account for old age. It can also serve as an effective rationalization for life avoidance.”
“Ultimately, work on self is inseperable from work in the world. Each mirrors the other; each is a vehicle for the other. When we change ourselves, our values and actions change as well. When we do work in the world, internal issues arise that we must face or be rendered ineffective.”
“You don’t get to pick your family, but you can pick your teachers and you can pick your friends and you can pick the music you listen to and you can pick the books you read and you can pick the movies you see. You are, in fact, a mashup of what you choose to let into your life. You are the sum of your influences. The German writer Goethe said, “We are shaped and fashioned by what we love.”
“Most things are out of our control. We are surrounded by danger, frustration, grief, and insanity as well as love, hope, ecstasy, and wonder. Being fully human is an exercise in humility, suffering, grace, and great humor. Things and people all around us die, get broken, or are lost. There is no safety or guarantees. The way to accomplish the assignment of truly living is to engage fully, richly, and deeply in the living of your dreams. We are made to dream and to live those dreams.”
“We must come together in ways that respect the solitude of the soul that avoid the unconscious violence we do when we try to save each other that evoke our capacity to hold another life without dishonoring its mystery never trying to coerce the other into meeting our own needs.”
“The most pernicious aspect of procrastination is that it can become a habit. We don’t just put off our lives today; we put them off till our deathbed. Never forget: This very moment, we can change our lives. There never was a moment, and never will be, when we are without the power to alter our destiny. This second we can turn the tables on Resistance. This second, we can sit down and do our work.”
Books for Mindfulness
“We waste so much energy trying to cover up who we are when beneath every attitude is the want to be loved, and beneath every anger is a wound to be healed and beneath every sadness is the fear that there will not be enough time. When we hesitate in being direct, we unknowingly slip something on, some added layer of protection that keeps us from feeling the world, and often that thin covering is the beginning of a loneliness which, if not put down, diminishes our chances of joy.”
“Love is not selective, just as the light of the sun is not selective. It does not make one person special. It is not exclusive. Exclusivity is not the love of God but the “love” of ego.”
Books For Love
After more than a decade of helping hundreds of clients love themselves and their lives you could say that Love is my quest. The most important lesson I have learned is to choose love over fear. Again and again.
The rules of love and fear can be found in a tangle of a hundred billion brain cells and amongst complicated electrical currents and signals. Love emanates from the brain, but its reach extends further. Love and fear influence all human thoughts, feelings, and behaviors.
The world is full of people who struggle with living from love over fear. I was one of them and I have worked with many others. Living a life we love depends upon resolving the struggle between love and fear as quickly as possible. Whether we live in a state of love or a state of fear changes everything. Love and fear make us who we are and create who we become.
Here are ten books that could deepen how you love yourself, others and your life.
“The course does not aim at teaching the meaning of love, for that is beyond what can be taught. It does aim, however, at removing the blocks to the awareness of love’s presence, which is your natural inheritance. The opposite of love is fear, but what is all encompassing can have no opposite.”
“Real love” – “This kind of love is emotional in nature but not obsessional. It is a love that unites reason and emotion. It involves an act of the will and requires discipline, and it recognizes the need for personal growth.”
“Every true love and friendship is a story of unexpected transformation. If we are the same person before and after we loved, that means we have not loved enough.”
“Women’s desire—its inherent range and innate power—is an underestimated and constrained force.”
“If you send out goodness from yourself, or if you share that which is happy or good within you, it will all come back to you multiplied ten thousand times. In the kingdom of love there is no competition; there is no possessiveness or control. The more love you give away, the more love you will have.”
“You can’t have a great relationship unless it’s emotionally safe; it has to be predictable and reliable. You need to be able to count on the fact that when you’re around your partner you’re not going to get hurt or be criticized, put down, or shut out.”
“Healing depends on listening with the inner ear – stopping the incessant blather, and listening. Fear keeps us chattering – fear that wells up from the past, fear of blurting out what we really fear, fear of future repercussions. It is our very fear of the future that distorts the now that could lead to a different future if we dared to be whole in the present.”
“Time to go into the dark where the night has eyes to recognize its own. There you can be sure you are not beyond love. The dark will be your womb tonight. The night will give you a horizon further than you can see. You must learn one thing. The world was made to be free in. Give up on all other worlds except the one to which you belong. Sometimes it takes darkness and the sweet confinement of your aloneness to learn anything or anyone that does not bring you alive is too small for you. ”
“In the Love Lab, the relationships that were happy, the ratio was 20:1 of positive to negative expressions when simply conversing. A relationship is a contract of mutual nurturance. Relationships have to be a rich climate of positivity.”
“Love in its fullest form is a series of deaths and rebirths. We let go of one phase, one aspect of love, and enter another. Passion dies and is brought back. Pain is chased away and surfaces another time. To love means to embrace and at the same time to withstand many endings, and many many beginnings- all in the same relationship.”
“I live my life in growing orbits which move out over this wondrous world, I am circling around God, around ancient towers and I have been circling for a thousand years. And I still don’t know if I am an eagle or a storm or a great song.”
“A much more interesting, kind, adventurous, and joyful approach to life is to begin to develop curiosity, not caring whether the object of our inquisitiveness is bitter or sweet.”
Rumi is always favorite.
“Soul, if you want to learn secrets,
your heart must forget about
shame and dignity.
You are God’s lover,
yet you worry
Hurrying toward nothing
the only thing worth answering is Love.
Happening into Loving
the only thing worth being