A little over a year ago, I wrote a blog post reflecting on my 23rd year of life as it came to a close and I turned 24. I shared the struggles that I encountered around my 23rd birthday a year ago along with the activities, organizations, and people that helped to re-center me after a rough emotional time. While they each played an important role in bringing me back to my normal self, the authors and teachers of different motivational books and podcasts (who I refer to as my virtual mentors) were some of my most treasured resources.
I started 23 as an unemployed, recently unattached (ha, nice way of saying broken up with), 2 years out of college post-grad who had just moved home. I had a lot of free time on my hands that I desperately needed to fill in order to keep myself from going insane thinking about all of the things that I no longer had. Reading proved to be a productive way to fill that time in addition to working out, bothering my sister/cousins, and applying to jobs.
I have always loved reading so it wasn’t that far a cry from my usual pastime behavior, though reading for pleasure pretty much flew out of the window during my studies at NYU.
I read, listened to audiobooks in the car, and listened to podcasts while cleaning my room or straightening my hair. This not only helped to effectively fill my time but also helped to motivate me to get my life on track, get happy again, and get in touch with my spirituality.
If you’re looking for some virtual mentors to adopt, the following list shows just a couple of the resources that helped me regain the pep in my step and feel hopeful about life and the direction I was heading. This list only scratches the surface of all the books that shifted my mindset but one of these is sure to be a great place to start.
Harmonic Wealth by James Arthur Ray
My mom gave me this book when she noticed that I was moping around the house feeling sorry for myself. Its concepts are a bit advanced (or “woo woo”) for the newbie spiritual learner but a good book to read once you’ve been introduced to the ways of manifesting our desires and the importance of our thoughts.
You Can Heal Your Life by Louise Hay (Book and DVD)
Technically I read this while I was 22 and in NYC but I referred back to its affirmations many times during my 23rd year of life. This book is affirmation heavy which can be very useful in retraining your mind from its negative dialogue. It shows you how damaging the things that we say and think can be to our self-image and the ultimate reality we manifest.
Funny story: I was reading this book on the L train one day after work while in NYC, during my daily commute from Manhattan back to Brooklyn when a woman sat next to me and was very obviously reading along with me (this is a pretty common occurrence on the subway). When we got to her stop and she was about to get off, she asked me what the title of the book was and I told her. It was like something out of the movie! I’ve read along with many subway riders when I had nothing to occupy my time but I’ve never asked them about the book or made it known that I was reading with them! She must have really enjoyed the little bit that she read.
This book also has an accompanying DVD with guest speakers who touch on various topics. My mother loves to recommend that I watch the DVD whenever my life isn’t going the way I want it to or she notices that I’m feeling frustrated. She also likes to listen to the guest speakers in her room to lull her to sleep.
Instinct by T.D. Jakes
My sister gave me this book for my 23rd birthday and I immediately put it to use. I had never read any of his books or heard about him prior to this gift, aside from a column he had in Essence, but I became an instant fan (I even wrote a blog post based on one of his talks)! This book goes through the process of getting in touch with your personal intuition to achieve your goals in a very approachable way.
The Four Agreements by Don Miguel Ruiz
This is THE BEST BOOK. It should be required reading for every living human. When struggling with coping with regular things or just looking for a way to improve your day to day life, THIS is the book to turn to. I want to reread it again just thinking about it now. Great life philosophies to adopt in here and such an easy read. It’s not long at all but don’t let it’s small size fool you. It’s PACKED with wisdom.
Big Magic by Elizabeth Gilbert
I picked this up from the library without ever having read any of her stuff before (i.e. Eat Pray Love, though I had seen the movie and loved it!) and after reading it I decided to buy it for myself. Such an amazing read and surprisingly spiritual in a very unintimidating way. Liz is so approachable while sharing her thoughts on creativity and how to tackle the fear that holds us back. This is mandatory reading for anyone who aspires to be a writer or any kind of creative and also just useful for anyone who struggles with fear keeping them from their highest self (aka the majority of us humans).
You Can Heal Your Heart by Louise Hay and David Kessler
I actively sought out this book by searching Google to see if Louise had written anything about break-ups and boy was happy to see that it had recently come out right when I needed it! I purchased it immediately. It’s insight into our thought process when we go through a break-up were very useful along with the stories of her clients and the affirmations that they utilized in each situation. I only read the section on breakups but it also goes into coping with divorce and death and I’m sure those sections will be just as good once I get around to reading them.
You Are A Badass by Jen Sincero
This book was recommended by a random blog of a fellow awesome black girl (I’m failing to remember any more specifics than that) that I came across while internet surfing and I was not disappointed. I read this prior to and during my 1st LA trip during the summer of 2016 and continuously looked forward to the raw and humorous tone that Jen uses as she reveals the many ways we hold ourselves back and then kindly gives us actionable steps to help us realize our full potential. Pro Tip: “Love yourself” is the most prevalent tip in the book.
Think and Grow Rich by Napoleon Hill
I got this book from my aunt for Christmas in 2015 and kind of balked at it since I’m used to getting unuseful books from aunts on Christmas (sorry, aunts! I love you, still!). I finally decided to take a closer look at this year it after it was recommended by Jen Sincero in her book. It was extremely useful in helping me to get clear about my intentions and desires and I credit it for getting me my first high-paying salary job at the end of 2016! The sheer amount of massively successful people who endorse this book is enough to give it a shot.
Like I said, this just scratches the surface of the amazing books that have rewired my brain for the better, but if you’re ready to receive it and seeking some improvement, then any one of these titles could inspire positive change in your life.
Have you read any books that helped you out of a funk or gave you that boost of inspiration and motivation that you needed? Please share them in the comments! I’d love to check them out. And if you give any of these books a read, let me know what you think in the comments too!