Some might say that happiness begins in the mind. And perhaps they’ve learnt a thing or two about it. Every thought we allow into our lives has the power to do harm or to do good, so they say. Seems logical enough. Who knows? Maybe it’s time we got a little selective with the daily workings of our grey matter. It couldn’t hurt to try, right? To give you a little nudge in the right direction, here are our top literary picks to bring you back to your centre, back to the you that you can be, if maybe you’re feeling you’ve wandered too far from the point of it all.
The Tao of Pooh by Benjamin Hoff
“Do you really want to be happy?” Hoff begs the question. “You can begin by being appreciative of who you are and what you’ve got.” Sounds simple enough. But we know all too well the reality. Self doubt creeps in. Self criticism follows. Why do the lives of others, all glossy and airbrushed on Facebook, appear so flawless, and so very effortless? It’s easy to find ourselves falling for the same old trap. Allegorically drawing on the beloved character of Winnie the Pooh, Hoff introduces readers to the Eastern philosophy and practice of Taoism. And really, who could be happier and more contented than that honey-loving bear of fond childhood memories? Without denying room for growth, Hoff provides an antidote to the gruelling times of always striving, to do more, to have more, to be better. Instead, he insists that we work at a practice of gratitude in the moment at hand. A healthy reminder when it’s easier said than done.
Care of the Soul: A Guide for Cultivating Depth and Sacredness in Everyday Life by Thomas Moore
Moore himself pens his book as a “programme for bringing soul back to life.” But what is this thing we call a soul? And how do we know when it requires new life? In answer to this, Moore states simply, “Soul is not a thing but a quality or dimension of experiencing life and ourselves. It has to do with depth, value, relatedness, heart and personal substance.” So caught up are we, Moore argues, with the task of day to day so-called survival, trying to desperately chase the next big thing, the restlessness and frustration often leave us living lives devoid of real meaning and purpose. We forget along the way the things that truly nourish us. So instead we go from one addiction to the next. We rely on quick fixes, and the path of least resistance often to our own detriment. And even in times of trouble, when we feel we have failed, when we feel depressed and lacklustre, Moore kindly reminds readers that sometimes these are the times the soul requires, trying times of self-discovery and difficult growth. So if you feel you have lost your larger purpose in life, that your very being is tired and starved of itself, Care of the Soul might be just the read for you.
Eat Mangoes Naked by SARK
SARK, otherwise known as Susan Ariel Rainbow Kennedy, invites readers to “play and connect” with her, as she uses her words and her art to bring us back to the sense of wonder we may have lost as grown-ups, increasingly world-wearied and ever cynical. Well, bah humbug no more! Not with SARK at the ready! There may be some truth in the old joke that we don’t need shrinks, what we need is an island getaway. Of course, we can’t run away to white beaches, warm waters and chilled cocktails on demand every time life gets a little tricky. So we count on the therapists and the older and wiser (or in SARK’s case, the plain ol’ infectiously happy!), to keep us on track in times of adversity. With this book, SARK reminds readers to actively “seek out pleasure and lightly scoop it up!” (Even, she adds, in the “most difficult of places.”) Sharing her own “explorations into pleasure,” SARK leaves no stone unturned in her celebration of life’s simpler delights. All that is asked of you, in the end, is to ponder the things that make you truly happy, those sensory wonders that get your toes tingling with joy, be it music or watermelon juice dribbling down your chin or the feeling of soft sand underfoot. We have only this life to live, so we might as well enjoy it while we’re here.
That said, you’ve made it this far in one piece. Good job. Here’s to the rest of your wonderful life, full of heartache and happiness and everything in between. It’s a great day to be alive.
Date Published: 28 February 2017