bath tub with candles and book.

6 Must-Read Mental Health Books

Mental health books offer indispensable insights into the complexities of the human mind. Kristian Wilson, a licensed mental health counselor with Grow Therapy, says mental health books complement traditional therapy or counseling by offering additional perspectives and tools for self-improvement. “They can act as a supportive resource, reinforcing therapeutic concepts and encouraging ongoing personal development outside of therapy sessions,” she says. While not a replacement for therapy, mental health literature can help teach readers to cultivate resilience, cope with challenges, and foster greater compassion and empathy. The power of bibliotherapy Bibliotherapy is a therapeutic practice and form of self-care that uses literature to promote emotional well-being and personal growth. Rooted in the belief that reading can be transformative, bibliotherapy involves strategically selecting books, poems, or written materials that resonate with an individual’s emotional struggles, life experiences, or psychological challenges. Bibliotherapy encourages self-reflection, empathy, and a deeper understanding of oneself and others. It can complement traditional therapeutic methods, offering a unique and engaging way to explore complex emotions, cope with difficulties, and foster a sense of empowerment. “Reading mental health books can enhance self-awareness by prompting readers to reflect on their own thoughts, feelings, and behaviors,” Kristian says. “This process contributes to emotional intelligence by deepening one’s understanding of themselves and others.” Integrating mental health literature insights into daily practices supports enduring mental resilience and individual development. Books that discuss mental health serve as invaluable guides on your journey toward emotional well-being. From traditional “self-help” to fictional stories that tackle difficult mental health topics, the books on the following list illuminate the pathways to self-discovery, healing, and personal growth. 1. Darling Rose Gold by Stephanie Wrobel Topic: Healing from childhood trauma Parent-child relationships can be complicated. How a child grows and chooses to reclaim that power over those situations as an adult can impact mental health for years to come. The first mental health book on our list examines how one woman reclaims her power from her mother after suffering years of abuse at her hands. In this best-selling thriller, the author looks at the dynamic between Rose Gold and her mentally ill mother, taking a bold look at how child abuse and mental illness can destroy the most sacred relationships. This novel tackles how circumstances surrounding childhood trauma can impact victims long after the abuse ends, but also looks at how survivors can reclaim their power from their abusers and move forward. 2. The Girls at 17 Swann Street by Yara Zgheib Topic: Battling eating disorders Eating disorders can manifest as coping mechanisms for underlying psychological distress; anxiety, depression, low self-esteem, and trauma can fuel their development. Some researchers say eating disorders signify that the person dealing with these issues doesn’t feel a sense of control in their life. This desire to maintain control over food when control of everything else seems to be slipping away is precisely what Yara Zgheib examines in her debut novel, The Girls at 17 Swann Street. The book follows a young dancer named Anna Roux who, consumed by perfectionism, finds herself trapped with her biggest fears: feelings of failure, loneliness, and imperfections. She begins spiraling out of control and develops a serious eating disorder. Her condition becomes so severe that she’s admitted to a care facility at 17 Swann Street. There, Anna meets other girls struggling just like her. Together, they learn to conquer their illness and eat six meals daily. “The Girls at 17 Swann Street” delicately addresses the complicated relationship between mental well-being, self-acceptance, and the transformative power of resilience. 3. Daisy Jones & The Six by Taylor Jenkins Reid Topic: Coming-of-age This award-winning novel by Taylor Jenkins Reid may seem an unlikely addition here, but the themes in this coming-of-age story provide insights into the emotional challenges of growing up. Reid follows the fictional life of up-and-coming rock star Daisy Jones. Set in the late ’60s, this exciting oral history weaves the story of her and her band, The Six, and their rise to fame. With its vivid portrayal of characters navigating the complexities of their formative years, including the challenges of fame, relationships, social anxiety, and self-discovery, this fun-filled novel excels as a coming-of-age story. It sensitively addresses mental health, showcasing how characters grapple with their emotional struggles, ultimately emphasizing the importance of support, self-acceptance, and personal growth. 4. The Unapologetic Guide to Black Mental Health: Navigate an Unequal System, Learn Tools for Emotional Wellness, and Get the Help You Deserve by Rheeda Walker Topic: Mental health and the Black diaspora Mental health in the Black community is often overlooked. This is why it’s crucial that books dealing with mental health and mental health care in Black communities, written by Black authors, are available. In her book The Unapologetic Guide to Black Mental Health, Dr. Rheeda Walker examines crucial mental health issues in the Black community. She draws from personal experience to look at the Black community’s crisis regarding mental health conditions, including fighting the stigma surrounding them. This is an exceptional mental health book that provides a much-needed perspective on the intersection of mental well-being and racial experiences. By addressing the unique challenges faced by the Black community, this book offers critical insights, tools for emotional resilience, and a supportive framework for fostering mental wellness within a racially unequal system. 5. This Too Shall Pass: Stories of Change, Crisis and Hopeful Beginnings by Julia Samuel Topic: Dealing with change and crisis Sometimes, the best method for addressing a season of poor mental health is talking with someone who shared a similar experience. Psychotherapist and bestselling author Julia Samuel shares stories from actual sessions with patients, allowing readers to make connections to their unique mental health journey. This book fearlessly confronts the crucibles of family, love, profession, health, burnout, overthinking, and self-discovery. 6. Reasons to Stay Alive by Matt Haig Topic: Conquering depression Depression is a common challenge for many and can sometimes lead to thoughts of self-harm. While it may be hard to see in the moment, things do get better, and this is something the author reminds readers of in Reasons to Stay Alive. In this compelling memoir, Matt Haig details when, at the age of 24, he was consumed with an overwhelming desire to end his life. As he shares, he eventually discovered how to heal. Cleverly written, Matt uniquely approaches such heavy subject matter, interlacing it with moments of joy and humor. Write Your Own Chapter of Healing and Growth The story of your mental well-being is still being written, and these books are but the beginning chapters of an epic tale. Keep reading, growing, and celebrating the power of controlling your mental health. Isbell Oliva-Garcia, LMHC, is a licensed mental health clinician in based in Florida. To learn more about how therapy could benefit you, visit Grow Therapy
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dad and son reading books

Gifts for Book-Loving Dads

With Father’s Day just around the corner, allow us to do the book shopping for you. There are so many joyful and innovative new titles out there, so ditch the golf gear and head to your local bookstore for this year’s gift. We promise he will love each and every one of these! 1. Dad’s cooking? Why not make something with tater tots? Tots! 50 Tot-ally Awesome Recipes from Totchos to Sweet Po-Tot-O Pie by Dan Whalen A tater tot themed cookbook? Count your dad in. Filled with great ideas like Tots Poutine and Mac ‘n’ Tot ‘n’ Cheese, no one in the family will object to anything dad creates using Dan’s guidance. Most of the recipes use frozen store-bought tots, but if the dad in your life is comfy in the kitchen, no worries. Tots! also includes directions for making these favorite frozen potato treats from scratch. 2. Hard lessons learned are often the most important ones. The $20,000 T-Shirt: Life Lessons (and Fart Stories) from the Greatest Father the World Has Ever Known by Devon Weaver When Devon writes that this book was originally meant to be an advice book for his daughter and son because his relationship with his own father was fraught, it’s impossible to stop your eyes from welling up. Keep reading and you’ll find life lessons that every single father will relate to in this sweet—and brutally honest—memoir/advice book. 3. We can all find the funny in our daily lives. Everybody is Awful (Except You!) by Jim Florentine For the dad with a killer sense of humor, enter Everybody is Awful, penned by a comedian, podcaster and actor who appeared most recently on Amy Schumer’s hit film Trainwreck. This hilarious book covers everything from prank calls to social media madness while telling Jim’s story of his early days as a stand-up comedian. The cultural commentary in this hardcover is so relatable your dad won’t be able to put it down. 4. A coffee-table book about the awesomeness of dads. The Greatness of Dads by Kirsten Matthew Your dad will proudly display this tome on the coffee table, filled with compelling dad-themed quotes from such prominent figures as Nelson Mandela and F. Scott Fitzgerald. The book also features an open letter from Barack Obama to his daughters as well as poems, literary excerpts and pop-culture references collected by the author. It’s the best card you can give your dad! 5. The Greatest’s daughter shares insights on her legendary dad. Ali on Ali: Why He Said What He Said When He Said It by Hana Ali There’s something so heartwarming about a daughter writing about her dad. In this case, Muhammad Ali’s daughter, Hana, devotes this book to an explanation of the origins of the prizefighter’s most powerful quotes such as “Float like a butterfly sting like a bee!” Accompanied by more than 80 snapshots that span the entire life of the Greatest of All Time, we learn about Muhammad but also get a sense of his bond with his daughter. And isn’t that what Father’s Day is all about? 6. Coaches are a lot like dads. Most Valuable Dad: Inspiring Words on Fatherhood from Sports Superstars by Tom Limbert In this collection of inspiring words on fatherhood from such sports superstars as Tom Brady and Stephen Curry and organized by such topics as Empathy, Patience, Optimism and Character, Tom keys into the way dads are the ultimate to their kids. Give this book to the dad in your life and you’ll watch him smile as he reads more about his favorite sports figures.
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Live Happy Expert Fitness Tips

7 Expert Guides for Fitness and Health

When you pair exercise with healthy eating, you are on the pathway to fitness. Add strength training and aim for the recommended eight hours of sleep each night, and you will accelerate your progress, according to the experts. While you can’t sit down and read your way to fitness, the knowledge and expertise in these books will inspire you to start or improve upon your own journey toward health. As the popular fitness mantra states, “In order to become unstoppable, you have to start.” 1. Ask Dr. Nandi by Dr. Partha S. Nandi Dr. Partha Nandi is a practicing gastroenterologist and internal medicine physician with his own internationally syndicated television show. In his book, Ask Dr. Nandi, he asks: “What if you made your health the most important part of your life?” When we have our health, we have everything, he writes. Partha encourages readers to eat lots of fresh vegetables and fruit and make movement a key part of each day. Fit Tip: “Get up and move. Park far away from the store and walk. Take your bike instead of drive. Wash your own car. Garden. Choose purposeful movement.” 2. No Sweat: How the Simple Science of Motivation Can Bring You a Lifetime of Fitness by Michelle Segar, Ph.D. Create an active lifestyle based on your personal preferences so that you will no longer dread having to exercise. Using scientific research, author Michelle Segar, Ph.D, shows you how to stay motivated with her four-point plan. Create a personalized approach to exercise that works for you and feels like play, she writes. For fitness motivation, tap into fitness benefits like mental clarity, emotional calm, feeling strong and capable, and the joy of being in nature. Fit Tip: “Tap into how fitness and exercise benefit your daily quality of life—having more energy, less stress and an improved mood.” 3. Eat Move Sleep: How Small Choices Lead to Big Changes by Tom Rath Best-selling author Tom Rath was diagnosed as a teenager with a rare illness. He shares his discoveries made through extensive research in the areas of nutrition, exercise and sleep. Your everyday decisions significantly impact your health, Tom writes. Forget diets and exercise trends and work more movement into your life. Focus more on getting the restorative sleep your body needs and sit a lot less, he recommends. Discover numerous ways to shift your lifestyle toward activity and fitness. Fit Tip: “The real magic lies at the intersection between eating, moving and sleeping. If you can do all three well, it will improve your daily energy and your odds of living a long, healthy life.” 4. Thinner Leaner Stronger: The Simple Science of Building the Ultimate Female Body by Michael Matthews In this book, personal trainer Michael Matthews dispels several fitness myths and outlines a plan for using strength training to get fit. By creating more muscle, you will burn more calories—even at rest—and your metabolism will work on your behalf, Michael writes. Experience high energy levels and improve your outlook when you incorporate strength training with heavier weights and intense cardio into your exercise regimen. (Note: This book is recommended primarily  for those who already have a well-established workout routine.) Fit Tip: “What drives muscle growth?  The answer is known as progressive tension overload, which means progressively increasing tension levels in the muscle fibers over time.” 5. Mini Habits for Weight Loss: Stop Dieting, Form New Habits. Change Your Lifestyle Without Suffering by Stephen Guise If you are done with diets, this is the book for you. Focused on behavior change, Mini Habits makes a case for consistent, daily decisions that lead to lasting change. “It’s more energy efficient to automatically do something than to manually weigh your options and decide to act the same way every time,” writes author Stephen Guise. Mini Habits for Weight Loss shows you how to make dietary changes that don’t include swearing off carbs forever. Fit Tip: “We’re quick to blame ourselves for lack of progress, but slow to blame our strategies. Then we repeat them over and over again, trying to make them work. But here’s the thing—if you fail using a particular strategy more than a few times, you need to try another one.” 6. The Women's Health Big Book of Exercises: Four Weeks to a Leaner, Healthier, Sexier You by Adam Campbell, MS, CSCS The Women’s Health Big Book of Exercises focuses specifically on the techniques that work for women—from beginners to fitness enthusiasts. This encyclopedic tome is filled with tips, photos and research and various exercises. It also includes workouts from top trainers and movements to work every muscle group. Fit Tip: “Lifting weights gives you an edge over belly fat, stress, heart disease and cancer.” 7. Deskbound: Standing Up to a Sitting World by Kelly Starrett In Deskbound, physical therapist Kelly Starrett takes on the dangers of a sedentary lifestyle, specifically sitting too much. Research shows the correlation between sitting and a shortened lifespan. Kelly offers solutions for reducing the amount of time you spend sitting, such as not sitting when you have other options (like on a subway). He encourages the use of standing desks or active workstations. He also writes about how to identify and fix poor posture and prevent and treat lower back, neck, shoulder and wrist pain. Fit Tip: “Sit less. Our bodies were built for movement.” Read more: 19 Best Books to Help Achieve Your Goals Sandra Bilbray is a contributing editor for Live Happy, and the CEO and owner of
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Best books for 2018

Top 10 Books That Will Change Your Life in 2018

When inspiration catches you at just the right moment, it can change your life. A new way of looking at things or an insightful tip can motivate you to create more meaning and fulfillment in your life. To help you find those ideas, we’ve narrowed your search by culling some of the most exciting new books about happiness, health and wellness, productivity and more. Get ready to shake up your status quo—one of these books may just hold the key you’ve been looking for. 1. The Hope Circuit: A Psychologist’s Journey from Helplessness to Optimism by Martin E. P. Seligman, Ph.D. In his new book, which comes out in April 2018, positive psychology founder Martin Seligman takes an in-depth look at the history of the positive-psychology movement and intersects it with stories from his own life. He shares his personal struggle with depression at a young age and argues that by harnessing hope, gratitude and wisdom, anyone can achieve mental health and a brighter, more fulfilling future. 2. Big Potential: How Transforming the Pursuit of Success Raises Our Achievement, Happiness, and Well-Being by Shawn Achor In Shawn Achor’s bestselling book The Happiness Advantage, his research revealed that happiness leads to success, and not the other way around. In his follow-up book, Big Potential, Shawn shows that our connectivity with others is the path to fulfilling our potential. By pursuing success alone—or pushing others away—we limit our potential and become more stressed and disconnected. Studying people in 50 countries, he identifies five “seeds” or strategies to achieve big potential in today’s complex world. 3. The Healing Self: A Revolutionary New Plan to Supercharge Your Immunity and Stay Well for Life by Deepak Chopra and Rudolph E. Tanzi, Ph.D. Deepak Chopra, an expert on integrative medicine, and Rudolph E. Tanzi, the neuroscientist who identified the genes that cause Alzheimer’s disease, team up to show us how to take care of our immune systems for lifelong health. This brand-new book provides a “transformative plan to enhance your lifelong wellness,” including ways to better manage chronic stress and inflammation with the right lifestyle choices. 4. Your Best Year Ever: A 5-Step Plan for Achieving Your Most Important Goals by Michael Hyatt Will this be the year you finally achieve a long-held goal? Discover how much power you have to act and effect change in your life. “We need to get beyond our natural urge to play it safe. Playing it safe is not that safe,” writes author Michael Hyatt, the former chairman and CEO of Thomas Nelson Publishers. This book outlines a five-step plan to achieve the goals you care about most. One of his tips: Use gratitude as an important tool for success. 5. The Wisdom of Sundays: Life-Changing Insights from Super Soul Conversations by Oprah Winfrey Fans of Oprah’s Super Soul Sunday TV show will love this book—a collection of wisdom and “aha moments” from the show. Featuring insights from thought leaders such as Eckhart Tolle, Thich Nhat Hahn, Arianna Huffington and Shonda Rhimes, each chapter focuses on a different life-changing insight. “All of us are seeking the same thing. We share the desire to fulfill the highest, truest expression of ourselves,” Oprah writes. Read it to discover how to live more purposefully in the present moment. 6. Make Your Bed: Little Things that can Change Your Life by Admiral William H. McRaven In a commencement address at University of Texas at Austin, Admiral William H. McRaven shared 10 principles from his Navy Seal training that helped him overcome challenges. “Without pushing your limits, without occasionally sliding down the rope headfirst, without daring greatly, you will never know what is truly possible in your life,” he said, and the speech went viral, with more than 10 million views. His ultimate message: Face hardship and challenges with determination and compassion. Turn to this book when you get in a slump and need to recharge. 7. The Power of When: Discover Your Chronotype—and the Best Time to Eat Lunch, Ask for a Raise, Have Sex, Write a Novel by Michael Breus, Ph.D What if your life could improve dramatically just by understanding your natural rhythm of sleep and wakefulness? Knowing whether you are a morning person, night person or somewhere in between matters, according to Michael Breus, clinical psychologist and a diplomate of the American Board of Sleep Medicine. Each of the four chronotypes are represented by a different animal. Most people are bears, and their body clock tracks the rise and fall of the sun. Wolves are night people and lions are morning people. Dolphins often have trouble with sleep. Once you identify your chronotype, the book explains how to set up the ideal daily schedule to maximize your energy and get better sleep. 8. Emotional Agility: Get Unstuck, Embrace Change and Thrive in Work and Life by Susan David, Ph.D. The way we navigate our inner world—our thoughts, emotions and the narratives we form about ourselves—isthesingle most important determinant of our life success, explains Susan David, a psychologist at Harvard Medical School. Our inner world drives our actions, careers, relationships, happiness, health—in short, everything. Learn a new way to talk to yourself and navigate your inner world with more flexibility. Evaluate your emotions and use them to more closely align your life with your values. Learn how to be emotionally agile, says Susan, and you will thrive. 9. I Know How She Does It: How Successful Women Make the Most of Their Time by Laura Vanderkam Organizational expert and author Laura Vanderkam set out to discover how women who thrive manage to “do it all” using real data. She collected hour-by-hour time logs from 1,001 days in the lives of women who make at least $100,000 a year. What she discovered about how these women spend their time surprised her. They went jogging or to the gym, played with their kids and had lunches with friends—finding time for the things that made them happy and gave them meaning. Instead of adhering to rigid schedules, they piece together their days “like a mosaic.” Restructure your day so you live life more fulfilled, says Laura; be kind to yourself and realize that quality family time around the dinner table is important. 10. How to Be a Person in the World: Ask Polly’s Guide Through the Paradoxes of Modern Life by Heather Havrilesky Simply realizing that we are all in this life together can empower you to take risks and face new challenges, says Heather Havrilesky, author of “Ask Polly,” a weekly advice column for New York magazine. In this book, Heather shares a collection of wisdom gleaned over years of doling out advice—delivered with her signature grit and humor. “Every morning, you will wake up and see that life is all about fumbling and acceptingthat you’re fumbling. It’s all about saying nice things to yourself, even when you’re lazy, even when you’re lost. It’s about giving yourself the love you need in order to try,” she writes. Sandra Bilbray is a contributing editor for Live Happy, and the CEO and owner
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Live Happy 9 Books for Dealing with Grief

9 Books for Dealing With Grief and Loss

Grief and loss take you by surprise: One minute you are sobbing and the next you are laughing through tears when you recall a funny memory. Grief can take your breath away with gut-wrenching sorrow, and it can also make you cherish the great moments you shared with a loved one. Grief is messy and different for everyone who experiences it. The amount of time that has passed doesn’t necessarily indicate how much you’ve healed. To help you navigate the path of loss, here are some of the best books to comfort you through your grief. 1. Option B: Facing Adversity, Building Resilience, and Finding Joy By Sheryl Sandberg and Adam Grant Only in her mid-40s, Sheryl Sandberg faced the unimaginable. The COO of Facebook and author of the best-seller Lean In, Sheryl found her husband, Silicon Valley executive Dave Goldberg, suddenly dead during a vacation in Mexico. After the shocking loss, she would then have to face her children, her demanding job and her own seemingly bottomless grief. “We all live some form of Option B,” Sheryl writes. This version of her life—without the love of her life by her side—became Sheryl’s Option B. Co-written with psychologist and Wharton professor Adam Grant, Ph.D., Option B: Facing Adversity, Building Resilience, and Finding Joy, shows how the capacity of the human spirit can help you to persevere and rediscover joy even after facing tremendous pain and loss. Inspiring words: “When we realize that negative events don’t mean ‘everything is awful forever’ it makes us less depressed and more able to cope.” 2. The Year of Magical Thinking By Joan Didion Joan Didion and John Gregory Dunne were married and worked side-by-side as writers for 40 years. In 2003, John died from a massive heart attack at the same time the couple’s only daughter, Quintana, lay unconscious in a nearby hospital suffering from pneumonia and septic shock. Her husband’s death propelled Joan into a state she calls “magical thinking,” where she expected her husband to return and “need his shoes.” The Year of Magical Thinking is a memoir of her mourning, as she attempts to make sense of her grief, while tending to the severe illness of her daughter. Inspiring words: “Life changes in the instant. The ordinary instant.” 3. Resilient Grieving: Finding Strength and Embracing Life After a Loss That Changes Everything By Lucy Hone, Ph.D. After losing her 12-year-old daughter in a car accident, psychology professor Lucy Hone had to figure out a way forward with her sorrow. Resilient Grieving combines her bereavement research with positive psychology to show the human capacity for growth after traumatic loss. Calling “resilient grieving” an innate ability, her book details the ways possible to move through grief and discover how to live a more deeply engaged and meaningful life. Inspiring words: “The death of someone we hold dear may be inevitable; being paralyzed by our grief is not.” 4. I Wasn’t Ready to Say Goodbye: Surviving, Coping and Healing After the Sudden Death of a Loved One By Brook Noel and Pamela D. Blair, Ph.D. Called a book of solace, I Wasn’t Ready to Say Goodbye is like a companion to walk you through your grief after unimaginable loss—the kind of book you can turn to again and again. Authors Brook Noel and Pamela Blair, PhD., write about unique circumstances of loss such as suicide and homicide, as well as different grieving styles and myths and misunderstandings about grief. Discover how to get through the pain of losing someone and begin to rebuild your life. Inspiring words: “A heartache no one can heal, love leaves a memory no one can steal.” 5. A Grief Observed By C.S. Lewis “The death of a beloved is an amputation,” wrote author C.S. Lewis after losing his wife, Joy Gresham, to cancer. A Grief Observed, which inspired the movie Shadowlands, is his raw account of grief so strong it caused a man of stalwart faith to question the universe. He wrote, “…[grief] feels like being mildly drunk, or concussed. There is a sort of invisible blanket between the world and me. I find it hard to take in what anyone says. Or perhaps, hard to want to take it in. It is so uninteresting. Yet I want the others to be about me. I dread the moments when the house is empty. If only they would talk to one another and not to me.” Inspiring words: “Grief is like a long valley, a winding valley where any bend may reveal a totally new landscape.”  6. On Grief and Grieving: Finding the Meaning of Grief Through the Five Stages of Loss By Elisabeth Kubler Ross and David Kessler Influential psychiatrist Elisabeth Kübler-Ross’s groundbreaking book, On Death and Dying, turned into a national discussion about grief and its five stages. Before her death in 2004, she and David Kessler wrote On Grief and Grieving, which examines the experience of grief. On Grief and Grieving explores how the process of grieving helps us live with loss, including the authors own experiences, practical wisdom and case studies. It delves into sadness, hauntings, dreams, isolation and healing. Inspiring words: “The reality is that you will grieve forever. You will not ‘get over’ the loss of a loved one; you will learn to live with it. You will heal, and you will rebuild yourself around the loss you have suffered. You will be whole again but you will never be the same. Nor should you be the same nor would you want to.”  7. Please Be Patient, I'm Grieving: How to Care For and Support the Grieving Heart  By Gary Roe A hospice chaplain and grief specialist, Gary Roe helps provide comfort to those facing the devastating loss of a loved one. His book is filled with tips on how to manage the ups and downs of grief. Learn how to navigate all the changes after a loss of a spouse or significant other, and face the future with hope again. If you want to feel understood, and like you aren’t alone, read this book. You also will find suggestions for helping people you love deal with grief. Inspiring words: “You are far from alone, you’re not crazy, and that you will make it through this.” 8. When Bad Things Happen to Good People By Harold S. Kushner Harold Kushner was a young rabbi when he learned that his 3-year-old son was facing a fatal illness. This grim diagnosis sent Harold on a lifelong quest to examine how God could let good people suffer. He shares how he merged his religious faith with the fear, questions and doubts in this classic book, which has become a resource for others facing similar tragedy. It includes Harold's own experience, plus stories from people he’s helped throughout his career. Inspiring words: “I wanted to write a book that could be given to the person who has been hurt by life—by death, by illness or injury, by rejection or disappointment—and who knows in his heart that if there is justice in the world, he deserved better.” 9. When Things Fall Apart By Pema Chodron When Things Fall Apart is a collection of Buddhist nun Pema Chodron’s wisdom on dealing with grief, illness, fear and more. In the beloved classic, she advises those who are suffering to move toward the pain instead of running away from it. She believes that embracing the negative situation or emotion will help readers find ways to cope and, ultimately, heal. The book weaves in Buddhist wisdom and practical advice throughout to target a variety of life situations. “The trick is to keep exploring and not bail out, even when we find out that something is not what we thought. That’s what we’re going to discover again and again and again.” Inspiring words: “Usually we think that brave people have no fear. The truth is they are intimate with fear.” Sandra Bilbray is a contributing editor for Live Happy, and the CEO and owner of
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Jumping on the beach

‘The Empowered Mama’ Puts Women’s Wellness First

Author Lisa Druxman is the dynamic founder of FIT4MOM, a national fitness company that operates a range of classes to help women get back in shape after having a baby. After spending years interacting with busy moms, and raising her own kids while also running a growing business, Lisa has gathered her wisdom and experience in her new book, The Empowered Mama: How to Reclaim Your Time and Yourself While Raising a Happy, Healthy Family. We spoke with Lisa to learn more about how women can fit wellness and self-care into our hectic lives without giving up on fulfilling work, in or out of the home. Live Happy: Lisa, what made you want to write this book? Lisa Druxman: Everything we do at FIT4MOM is about helping women realize their strengths in motherhood. I get a chance to meet moms across the country, and they all say they are overwhelmed. I have learned a lot since founding the company (and growing it while raising my own family), and I wanted to shorten the learning curve for other women. The Empowered Mama is the culmination of the wisdom and experience I’ve acquired over all this time. Why is it important for moms in particular to engage in self-care? Moms are used to caring for their family—putting others first. But you can’t pour from an empty cup. As moms we set the tone, and we set the energy for the whole family, so it is crucial that we take time to take care of ourselves. What do you think are some of the biggest challenges for moms today? We are trying to be supermoms. We are living in the age of Pinterest when we think we have to have our houses look a certain way, and party decorations have to be a certain way... Seventy percent of moms are working full- or part-time, so with that, taking care of the kids, the house—they wish there were more hours of the day, but they would just fill it up with more errands. Instead, we need to be more purposeful about how we use time. We need to set priorities, say no to some things and let go of perfection. You are in the fitness business, yet you included many aspects of life in the book in addition to exercise and nutrition. How did you decide to do that? My master’s degree is in psychology, so I am fascinated by the mind and the power of the mind. I’ve been in the fitness industry for 25 years, and I’ve learned that you can’t become happy and healthy just by being fit. We have to change our mindset. To me that means thinking about things like purpose, values and goals, so I have included what I’ve learned over the years in this book, in a fun, interactive way. What is the most important thing you think moms can do to improve their well-being? You need to put your self-care in first. The thing moms want, but are never able to achieve, is balance. So if we know that, what happens if we take care of ourselves first? Ask yourself, what is the minimum effective dose for me to feel healthy and happy? For me, I need a certain amount of exercise. I know I need to eat certain kinds of foods… What is self-care for you? Whatever it is, you need to get those things in first and build your schedule around that. Do you think it is possible for moms to find work/life balance? If you schedule your self-care first, you will automatically feel more balanced. Instead of focusing on balance, focus on counterbalance. Sometimes you need to really focus on work. So maybe when that period is over, you can counterbalance with more family time. Other times your family is taking all your time; then you need to talk with your family and explain you will be working longer. How can dads and kids help mothers to have more time for self-care? Partners need to sit down and share what they want out of life. Moms should explain, ‘Here are my reasons why—here is what I need.’ Don’t assume your partner is a mind-reader. Tell him or her what you want: ‘It would be really helpful if you could pick up the clothes from the dry-cleaners or the kids from school.’ Make a workout schedule with your partner, so you are not competing for free time to go to the gym. Do you think there is a cult of busy-ness among women, and how can we get out of it? Being busy has become almost like a badge of honor for moms. I used to be the same way—this whole book is based on mistakes that I’ve made! It’s like we don’t ever want to come across as lazy, so we wind up as martyrs instead. We need to redefine what a happy and healthy life looks like. I want moms to schedule margins—spaces and air in-between activities—a feeling of peace and roominess so we no longer feel so rushed. Why is it important to meditate? I have been consistently meditating now for nearly 20 years. I have ADHD—my mind is always going. Meditation quiets those thoughts and decreases stress. It will increase your immune system and your brain size. It helps depression, too. I wish and hope that moms could do at least 10 minutes before the rest of the family wakes up to set the tone for the rest of the day. Set your intention for the day. You quote extensively from The Slight Edge, which was written by Jeff Olson, founder of Live Happy. I didn’t know that! But the book is so important to me—his philosophy of incremental change leading to big transformation really resonates. I’ve never done anything like this before, but I actually paid my kids $100 to read it! What do you hope readers will take away from the book? The book is written to be used as a yearlong interactive process, with a different focus each month. I believe moms—who are raising the next generation of leaders—are creating a positive ripple effect, and I want to help empower them to be change-agents in the community and in the world. 8 Empowering Takeaways for Moms Give yourself permission to take care of yourself. Exercise and good nutrition are necessities, not luxuries. Take little breaks: Have a bath, enjoy a nap, unplug from digital devices. Write down your core values, and make sure your behaviors are aligned with them. Learn to delegate and say “No.” Figure out in which areas of life you might be lacking or over-committing. Create a Personal Action Plan to achieve specific goals. Use The Slight Edge philosophy to make incremental positive changes in your life. Emily Wise Miller is the Web Editor for Live Happy.
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7 Amazing Books That Will Unlock Your Creativity

One secret to unleashing your creativity and putting it to work is to first tell yourself that you are creative. Artists, writers, musicians and chefs are always thought of as creative types, but everyone—regardless of talent or profession—has the capacity for creativity. Start by believing in your own ability to create. To hone your creativity further, pick up one or more of these inspiring, motivating books and help tap into your muse. 1. The Artist’s Way: A Spiritual Path to Higher Creativity By Julia Cameron Journalist and poet Julia Cameron started by sharing ideas with other authors in her living room. Her book, The Artist’s Way, has become a road map for people looking to tap into their creativity. Learn concrete ways to become more productive and imaginative, as well as understand how creativity is linked to spirituality. One of her tips is to write “morning pages,” which are three sheets of longhand, stream-of-consciousness writing done at the start of the day. She suggests not overthinking the process and capturing what comes to you. 2. Creativity: Flow and the Psychology of Discovery and Invention By Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi What leads to your most creative moments? Drawing on 100 interviews with exceptional people, including biologists, politicians, business leaders and artists, as well as his many years of research, psychologist Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi explores why we need to cultivate creativity for the future of our country and world. He contends that creativity is so fascinating because when we are involved in it, we are living more fully than during the rest of life. 3. Let Me Out: Unlock Your Creative Mind and Bring Your Ideas to Life By Peter Himmelman Award-winning musician and founder of the website explains how to use science-based left- and right-brained thinking to take action on your goals. Knowing who you are and what you stand for gives you strength of purpose, he writes. Think like a kid again; they don’t worry about fear and judgment. Entertain wild ideas with your childlike sense of wonder. 4. A Whole New Mind: Why Right Brainers Will Rule the World By Daniel Pink Learn how to grow your creative thinking with six fundamental abilities that are necessary for professional and personal success. Even if you are a logical and linear left-brain thinker, this book was written to help everyone tap into the potential of the right side of their brain. 5. The Gifts of Imperfection: Let Go of Who You Think You’re Supposed to Be and Embrace Who You Are By Brene Brown Do you know what kills creativity? Perfectionism. Author Brene Brown shows how to give up perfection to connect with your true self and take more risks. She writes, “Understanding the difference between healthy striving and perfectionism is critical to laying down the shield and picking up your life…” 6. Start Where You Are: A Journal for Self-Exploration By Meera Lee Patel Blank journals can spark insights by connecting you to your inner voice, but Start Where You Are is an interactive journal that facilitates creativity, mindfulness and self-motivation. Take the time to slow down, notice the world around you and discover who you are. Use encouraging prompts such as “all the answers are already inside you” and “write down three thoughts that made you smile today” to help inspire your creativity. 7. Creative Confidence: Unleashing the Creative Potential Within Us All By Tom Kelley and David Kelley David Kelley, founder of the global design and innovation company, IDEO, and his brother Tom Kelley show you how to unleash your creativity. Drawing on stories from their work at IDEO with top companies, the authors impart principles and strategies on how to use your creative potential at work and in your personal life. Be innovative to solve problems, they write. And once you acknowledge that you are creative, you can use that confidence to go out and do great things. Read more: 10 Best Books to Boost Productivity Read More: 9 Best Books to Spark Spiritual Enlightenment Sandra Bilbray is a contributing editor for Live Happy, and the CEO and owner of
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Find Your Blue Zone for a Long and Happy Life

Dan Buettner’s groundbreaking research on longevity has changed our understanding of what leads to a long, happy life. Starting with his 2005 National Geographic cover story, “The Secrets of Long Life,” Dan has allowed us to accompany him on a journey of discovery into the Blue Zones where the world’s happiest and oldest populations thrive.With his new book, The Blue Zones of Happiness: Lessons from the World’s Happiest People, Dan explains how to implement the Blues Zones mindset into your everyday world. LIVE HAPPY:What new insight will we gain from The Blue Zones of Happiness? DAN BUETTNER: That the organizing principle of longevity has less to do with modifying your behavior than with modifying your environment. None of these spry centenarians living in the Blue Zones said, “I’m going to diet and exercise and take supplements so I can live a long life.” But what they did was live in an environment that nudged them to movement and social connections. No matter where you are in the world, that is the underpinning of longevity. And the same is true of happiness. LH: What does the Blue Zones mindset teach us about happiness? DB: There’s a lot of information out there about changing habits to become happier, but the problem is those strategies tend not to work in the long term—and most people want to be happy for a long time! We found the statistically happiest places on the planet and then dissected the anatomy of those places that are not only producing the happiest people, but also the longest-living. Once you can identify all those facets, then you can see how to set up your life to be happy. LH: If you are unhappy with your current situation, what is the most important thing you can do? DB: Pack up and move! It sounds simplistic, but it’s been demonstrated statistically and in real life. There are things you can do—like picking a neighborhood where you can have friendships and walk to the grocery store and create an environment where you run into people enough that friendships combust out of those spontaneous interactions. You are more likely to be happy in a place where you have social connectivity; about the only thing that works for everyone is social connections. So, there are things you can do to stack the deck in favor of happiness. LH: Your book offers ways to bring a Blue Zones environment into all facets of our lives, from the workplace to our finances. What changes will we see when we start implementing some of these practices? DB: It’s subtle. In the financial realm, for example, as we realize that financial security is more powerful than consumption, we gradually shift how we spend our money. It shifts from buying “things” to paying down debt or buying insurance, and as a result, you sleep better, so you feel better. You stop worrying about what happens if something goes wrong, because you feel more secure. LH: What’s the No. 1 thing you want readers to take away from your book? DB: That the path to a happier life is via an environmental change rather than simply a behavioral one. There’s a lot of emerging literature showing that environmental changes are what will make you happier in the long run. And now we have valid science that shows us what we can do to shape our environment for happiness. Listen to our podcast with Dan Buettner: Read more: Ikigai: The Secret to a Long and Happy Life Read more: Fort Worth Kicks Off Blue Zone Initiative Paula Felps is the Science Editor for Live Happy.
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10 Best Books About Faith

If you ask 10 people for a definition of “faith” you might get 10 different responses. Faith is personal. There is beauty to be found in the ways we define one powerful word. Some define faith as God, others as spirit, belief, light, meaning or hope. Faith describes something bigger than the human experience, which transcends life and yet makes it more meaningful. Over the centuries, wars have been fought in its name. And yet because faith encourages connectedness and community, faith can bring people together. We’ve selected 10 thought-provoking books to launch your personal spiritual journey. 1. The History of God: The 4,000-Year Quest of Judaism, Christianity and Islam By Karen Armstrong Karen Armstrong, a British journalist and former Roman Catholic nun, goes on a quest for God. Using in-depth research and historical storytelling, she contends that the definition of God changes with time and warns that the idea of a personal God can be dangerous because it encourages people to judge, condemn or marginalize others. The History of God shows how Judaism, Christianity and Islam have overlapped and influenced each other. “The idols of fundamentalism are not good substitutes for God; if we are to create a vibrant new faith for the twenty-first century, we should, perhaps, ponder the history of God for some lessons and warnings,” she writes. 2. The Book of Joy: Lasting Happiness in a Changing World By Dalai Lama and Desmond Tutu “No dark fate determines the future. We do. Each day and each moment, we are able to create and re-create our lives and the very quality of human life on the planet. This is the power we wield.” In The Book of Joy, spiritual leaders Dalai Lama and Desmond Tutu encourage readers to move away from materialistic values and focus on inner values and humanity. The book wants readers to realize we are all meant to coexist and use that belief to foster peace in the world. Understand the role you play in creating your own suffering and in creating your happiness. 3. Dancing on the Edge of the World: Jewish Stories of Faith, Inspiration, and Love By Miriyam Glazer Dancing on the Edge of the World is a collection of ancient and contemporary memoirs, fiction and fables about the struggles and joys of Jewish people. A professor of literature at the University of Judaism in Los Angeles, Miriyam Glazer has collected stories that will both inspire and move you. This book is a historical-spiritual journey that seeks to impart what it truly means to be Jewish. 4. A Testament of Devotion By Thomas R. Kelly A Testament of Devotion, first published in 1941 by renowned Quaker teacher Thomas Kelly, includes five compelling essays that urge us to center our lives on God’s presence; to find quiet and stillness within modern life; and to discover the deeply satisfying and lasting peace of the inner spiritual journey. He writes, “Life is meant to be lived from a Center, a divine Center…Life from the Center is a life of unhurried peace and power. It is simple. It is serene. It is amazing. It is triumphant. It is radiant. It takes no time, but it occupies all our time. And it makes our life programs new and overcoming. We need not get frantic. He is at the helm. And when our little day is done we lie down quietly in peace.” 5. Traveling Mercies: Some Thoughts on Faith By Anne Lamott Anne Lamott, the dreadlocked author of Bird by Bird and Operating Instructions, among other popular books, says the two best prayers she knows are “Help me, help me, help me,” and “Thank you, thank you, thank you.” Traveling Mercies depicts her travel adventures and life experiences as they nudge her toward Christian faith (including a consultation with God on how to parent). Relatable and human as always, Anne doesn’t claim to have all the answers, but she “knows how to shine the light of faith on the darkest part of ordinary life to expose pockets of meaning and hope.” Faith includes noticing the mess, the emptiness and discomfort, and letting it be there until the light returns. –Anne Lamott 6. Mere Christianity By C.S. Lewis If you want to understand what it means to be a Christian in a straightforward way, read C.S. Lewis’Mere Christianity, in which the legendary British novelist outlines his fundamental beliefs about religion and human nature. He finds a commonality among Christian faith, which to him shows that “at the centre of each there is something, or a Someone, who against all divergences of belief, all difference of temperament, all memories of mutual persecution, speaks the same voice.” After reading, not only do you gain a better sense of Christianity, but you also put the book down wanting to be a better person. 7. Rooted: The Hidden Places Where God Develops You By Banning Liebscher Author Banning Liebscher, founder of the Jesus Culture Ministry in Sacramento, is on a mission to inspire people to encounter God and be empowered to revive and transform their own community. In Rooted, he encourages you to slow down long enough to allow God to grow a root system in your life so you can bear its fruit. “You are where you are because God has planted you there,” he writes. “Discover what it looks like to embrace His process so you can do what He has called you to, change the world.” You are here to make an impact with God through service,” writes Banning. And to carry it out with humility among your community. 8. The Heart of the Buddha’s Teaching: Transforming Suffering into Peace, Joy, and Liberation By Thich Nhat Hanh Vietnamese monk Thich Nhat Hanh uses his poetic style and easy-to-follow interpretations throughout The Heart of Buddha’s Teaching. The book explores how suffering comes in multiple forms and how it, ultimately, can create a path toward enlightenment. “Without suffering, you cannot grow. Without suffering, you cannot get the peace and joy you deserve. Please don’t run away from your suffering. Embrace it and cherish it,” he writes. Readers will learn about several significant Buddhist teachings, including the Four Noble Truths, the Noble Eightfold Path and more. 9. The Soul Searcher's Handbook: A Modern Girl's Guide to the New Age World By Emma Mildon If you’ve ever wanted to learn more about New Age spirituality, this book is for you. The Soul Searcher’s Handbook takes a fun approach to defining everything New Age—from healing crystals to mind-body-spirit practices. Gain a new understanding of “dreamology,” mysticism and astrology, while you also learn to ground yourself in Mother Earth. “Spirituality is not a religion or a trend—it is a lifestyle.It is a lifestyle of awareness that combines the understanding of faith, body, mind and soul, allowing us to live modern-day enlightened lives in small and big ways,” writes author Emma Mildon. Like the New Age itself, there is something for every searcher in this book; take the piece that resonates most with you. 10. Heaven on My Mind: Using the Harvard Grant Study of Adult Development to Explore the Value of the Prospection of Life After Death By George E. Vaillant, M.D. Drawing on the Harvard Study of Adult Development (“The Grant Study”), lead researcher George E. Vaillant, M.D., examines the extent to which a belief in the afterlife influences well-being and survival over the course of a lifetime. Using spiritual and religious biographies of the men in The Grant Study, Heaven on My Mind shows us the significance that faith and hope for heaven have on our everyday life and well-being. The book ultimately reveals that there’s more value in keeping heaven on your mind than you might realize. Sandra Bilbray is a contributing editor for Live Happy, and the CEO and owner of
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10 Best Books to Boost Productivity

We all wish we had more time in a day so we could accomplish more and squeeze as much as possible out of every moment. But the clock is not changing anytime soon, so how can we get more done? We turned to productivity experts and best-selling authors and noticed some common themes: Seek clarity each day to determine your top priorities. The right daily habits can increase your productivity. When work does not align with your values, it affects your productivity. Put these 10 motivating, action-oriented titles on your reading list and soon you’ll be accomplishing more than you ever imagined. 1. Greater Balance, Greater Reward: Five Steps to Better Health, Productivity, and Work Life Balance by Jeff Kooz If you are tired of feeling as if your life is a juggling act (and you’re not the greatest juggler), read this book. Through a parable, the author highlights how our reluctance to change can prevent us from living a productive life. Learn the five steps that can help you become healthier and more productive, and live in harmony with your work life. 2. Eat That Frog: 21 Great Ways to Stop Procrastinating and Get More Done in Less Time by Brian Tracy Legendary time-management expert Brian Tracy tells it to us straight: “There isn’t enough time for everything on your to-do list, and there never will be. Don’t try to get it all done, make sure you get the most important things done.” Eat That Frog is a metaphor for tackling the most challenging task of your day first—the one you are most likely to procrastinate on—because it can have the biggest impact on your day and life. The 21 productivity tips included in this book just might change how you function. 3. Getting Things Done: The Art of Stress-Free Productivity by David Allen David Allen’s classic bookGetting Things Doneis your quintessential guide to personal organization, time management and productivity. “What we truly need to do is often what we most feel like avoiding,”he writes. Learn the four Ds—do it, defer it, delegate it, or delete it—as well as other gems, and get more done in both your personal and professional life. 4. The Compound Effect: Jumpstart Your Income, Your Life, Your Success by Darren Hardy Author and personal-development expert Darren Hardy offers the fundamentals of being productive in every aspect of your life—and it boils down to the action steps you take each day. When your work and habits are aligned with your core values, says the author, productivity ensues. “A daily routine built on good habits is the difference that separates the most successful amongst us from everyone else,” he writes. 5. High Performance Habits: How Extraordinary People Become That Way by Brendon Burchard “We learn that the more we are true to ourselves, the more we can connect with and contribute to the world,” writes performance expert, Brendon Burchard. Discover the six habits needed to master productivity and achieve success. Without mastering them, says Brendon, life is a never-ending struggle. Becoming a high performer is first about seeking clarity. The book offers tips and exercises based in science that you can implement right now. 6. Your Best Just Got Better: Work Smarter, Think Bigger, Make More by Jason Womack If you already consider yourself an achiever, this book will show you how to take your accomplishments to the next level. The author encourages you to define what an ideal day looks like so you can focus and live according to what you truly love and want to do—with work, life, family and friends, and in your community. 7. The Power of Less: The Fine Art of Limiting Yourself to the Business and in Life by Leo Babauta This book’s mantra: Reduce your number of goals and focus on the essentials. “Doing a huge number of things doesn’t mean you’re getting anything meaningful done,” says Leo Babauta, known for his website and minimalist lifestyle.Reduce the noise in your life so you can focus on doing what matters most to you. Start with one tiny step, create a positive feedback loop, work in accountability and put everything you have into accomplishing your goal. 8. Superhuman By Habit: A Guide to Becoming the Best Possible Version of Yourself, One Tiny Habit at a Time by Tynan Left unexamined, our habits are just as likely to hinder our progress as they are to enhance it, says backpacker, blogger and best-selling author Tynan. Without a deliberate system for building positive habits, we become our own worst enemy. Understand specific habits in every major area of life and learn the path to implementing them. This is a great way to get younger readers (adolescents and college-age) interested in productivity and goal-setting. 9. The Power of Habit: Why We Do What We Do in Life and Business by Charles Duhigg Since writing this book, Pulitzer-Prize winner and best-selling author Charles Duhigg has lost 30 pounds and started training for the New York City Marathon. He did so by following the methods he lays out: First analyze your habits and then discover how to change them. He believes exercise is a “keystone habit” that triggers widespread productivity. People who exercise are more likely to eat better, be more productive at work and live with less stress. The key to productivity isn’t found in extraordinary people, he says, but in ordinary people who learn to maintain positive habits on a regular basis. 10. The Power of Full Engagement: Managing Energy, Not Time, Is the Key to High Performance and Personal Renewal by Jim Loehr “We live in digital time. Our pace is rushed, rapid-fire and relentless. Facing crushing workloads, we try to cram as much as possible into every day.” The key to overcoming this time crunch, Jim Loehr writes, is not to manage our time more effectively, but to manage our energy. Increase your productivity by balancing energy expenditure with energy renewal. In this book, the author lays out a road map to becoming more fully engaged, physically energized and emotionally connected. When your energy is at its peak, you will also be more mentally focused and spiritually aligned. Read more: 10 Best Books to Help Achieve Your Goals Read more: Become Smarter, Faster, Better! Sandra Bilbray is a contributing editor for Live Happy, and the CEO and owner of
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