You First: Top 5 Motivational Books!

There’s something about reading that transports me. Whether I’m reading science fiction, romance, or biology, I become immersed in a world that is not my own; it’s a healthy form of escapism. Since I was young, I’ve always loved reading, and as I’ve grown up, the kinds of books I’ve read have definitely changed, but that passion has stayed. 

Before leaving home for college, I was feeling overwhelmed by the seemingly endless list of unknowns, so I reached for books geared towards self-help, mindfulness, and managing stress and anxiety. I wanted to fill my head with as much positivity as possible so that thinking about things through a positive lens would become a habit. Over the summer, I read about 20 books and felt so empowered by much of what I read. Not only was I educating myself, but I was also finding catharsis through reading! (I know this isn’t the case for everyone, but if you read things you’re interested in, I’m certain you’ll enjoy it more. Makes sense, right?)

I love reading memoirs, autobiographies, motivational books, books about psychology backed with neuroscience. If this sounds interesting to you, take a look at the 5 books I LOVED and some quotes from each below! 

  1. “Love Warrior” by Glennon Doyle Melton 

 

First of all, I just want to say I’m obsessed with this woman. She is so passionate and powerful and beautiful AND she’s married to Abby Wambach (who wrote one of my favorite books, “Forward: A Memoir”--what a power couple!) “Love Warrior” is all about embracing the scary, uncomfortable, and intimidating aspects of life because they are what make us grow.  Not to mention, everyday she posts something thoughtful and inspirational on her Instagram, whether it’s a story, or a post or something she’s learned or is curious about. She is constantly growing and encouraging others to grow, and I think this is the most admirable thing ever. Not to mention, she has no tolerance for discrimination or injustice of any breed, and she lets her opinions be known, unapologetically. She is a force to be reckoned with, radiating strength, courage, positivity, and love...she really is a love warrior in the truest sense.

 

 A couple of my favorite quotes from this book include:

 

  • “We’ve only introduced each other to our representatives, while our real selves tried to live life alone. We thought that was safer. We thought that this way our real selves wouldn’t get hurt. But as I read these messages, it becomes clear that we are all hurting anyway. And we think we are alone. At our cores, we are our tender selves peeking out at a world of shiny representatives, so shame has been layered on top of our pain. We’re suffocating underneath all the layers.” -Glennon Doyle Melton

 

  • “I have broken the code that insists I just be grateful for whatever I get and pretend to need love more than I need freedom. But as I stand  there, I feel a thrill mixed with my fear. I’ve wanted to say these words since I was fifteen years old. And there I am. I’ve just introduced myself. I might be a bitch, but I’m free. I’ve gotten my insides out and I allow myself to consider that maybe my inside feelings are valid, simply because they are mine.” -Glennon Doyle Melton

 

AH, she is incredible, right??? So stinking cool. Also, she has another book (her first), called “Carry on, Warrior” if you’re interested! I highly recommend. She also has merch that says “Love Warrior” on it, and I’m tempted to buy something...

 

2. “Unworthy: How to Stop Hating Yourself” by Anneli Rufus

 

I know the title of this may sound a bit off-putting, like you would be scared for anyone to see you holding it (lol, I took the paper cover off so I wouldn’t concern anyone), but it also makes you wonder what’s inside, right? This book delves into the thought patterns that become second nature to us, such as the heritability of self-loathing. If we see a parent rip themselves apart, like Rufus’ mother who stared at herself in the mirror, recognizing herself as a “fat pig,” we are likely to have low self-esteem as well. Humans are impressionable beings, especially when we are young and looking to our parents for truth and guidance. She offers advice and empathy for people who struggle to see their own worth and allows us the time to step back and reevaluate objectively the lenses through which we view ourselves. 

A couple of my favorite quotes include:

  • “Money can’t buy self-esteem. Nor can anything else. Self-esteem might be the world’s most precious commodity. We enter this life soft and helpless, strangers to everyone, including ourselves. Henceforth, we remain largely at the mercy of this world and its inhabitants. Here our troubles begin.” -Anneli Rufus
  • “This latest research reveals that, thanks to a phenomenon known as neuroplasticity, human brains can be continually re-trained all throughout life. This process is never again as easy as in childhood...And scientific studies show that even a few minutes of daily mindfulness meditation or concentration can literally change the way we think and feel on a long-term basis, transforming chronic negative emotions into chronic positive ones.” -Anneli Rufus

3. “The Confidence Gap” by Russ Harris

I LOVED “The Confidence Gap” because it used a ton of analogies, which I find resonate more deeply with me than ambiguous statements like, “Calm down” or “Don’t get so worked up.” First of all, okay thanks for nothing, that’s what I’m trying to do unsuccessfully here. By the way, nobody says that in these kinds of books, but generally people in daily life will, and it’s just not helpful! It’s okay, though, that’s what psychologists are for!! Dr. Harris is an expert in ACT which stands for Acceptance and Commitment Therapy, an empirical/introspective modality that covers the psychological process (that we can voluntarily induce) called “emotional defusion,” where we identify and observe cognitions objectively as if they were (as Harris mentions in the book) cars driving on a highway (our mind). The cars never stop coming and they don’t stop driving on ahead either. They may get stuck in traffic and stick with us for a while, but no thought is permanent. Therefore, we must identify which thoughts are worthy of fusing with and granting our concentration and energy. 

Now, for a couple of my favorite quotes:

  • “When you step out of your comfort zone, take a risk, or face a challenge, you will feel fear. That’s not weakness; it’s the natural state of affairs for normal human beings.” -Russ Harris
  • “It’s not fear that holds people back - it’s their attitude toward it that keeps them stuck.” -Russ Harris

4. “Braving the Wilderness”  by Brené Brown

 

 

I found Brené Brown through her Ted Talks on shame and vulnerability. Her line of work is so interesting, as she studies uncomfortable emotions like those aforementioned, so it’s an empirical science, and one that’s a bit taboo and hard-hitting. I love this book because it’s based around the idea of breaking societal norms in exchange for going with one’s gut. Instead of doing what’s expected of us, or what we’ve been doing that doesn’t fulfill us, Brown encourages us to step out into the “wilderness,” an uncommon path that may be lonesome and scary, but is worth the risk! Like she says, “You are only free when you realize you belong no place—you belong every place—no place at all. The price is high. The reward is great.” 

  • “Stop walking through the world looking for confirmation that you don’t belong. You will always find it because you’ve made that your mission. Stop scouring people’s faces for evidence that you’re not enough. You will always find it because you’ve made that your goal. True belonging and self-worth are not goods; we don’t negotiate their value with the world. The truth about who we are lives in our hearts. Our call to courage is to protect our wild heart against constant evaluation, especially our own. No one belongs here more than you.” - Brené Brown
  • True belonging is the spiritual practice of believing in and belonging to yourself so deeply that you can share your most authentic self with the world and find sacredness in both being a part of something and standing alone in the wilderness. True belonging doesn’t require you to change who you are; it requires you to be who you are.” - Brené Brown

Her words are so powerful and reading them back makes me want to buy (not just borrow) this book so I can underline things and read it back for motivation! So incredible. Also, don’t forget to watch her Ted Talks!!

5. “First, We Make the Beast Beautiful” by Sarah Wilson

 

I just want to take a moment to appreciate the beautiful cover of this book and the even more beautiful title! She mentions that it’s a Chinese proverb that resonated deeply with her in regards to her anxiety, which society, and various events in her life, led her to believe was a beast. She writes that anxiety can also be viewed as gift: something that keep us accountable and caring and driven to succeed, albeit not often in the healthiest of ways for the person with anxiety. This author is superbly well-read and constantly references self-help books, psychology, and neuroscience to back-up claims and help create a well-rounded reading experience. 

This book is really quite remarkable, and I’ll say that I just finished reading it since I’ve been in college, and the subject matter and vibes it emanates couldn’t be more applicable. Sweet serendipity! I saw this book in Urban Outfitters here in Montréal, actually, and knew I had to read it.  I think it’s enticing to mention that she writes like she’s your really smart and caring best friend because this book is inspired by her own struggles, she isn’t looking down on you for struggling - in fact, she has struggled in a myriad of ways and is still wicked successful and amazing and found coping mechanisms to fuel this upward trajectory. 

 

Though it’s hard to choose, here are some of my favorite quotes:

  • “..am I just weak of character and just not trying hard enough? Does taking medication alter who I am? Am I less authentic for it? It is “unnatural”? And am I clinging to the “chemical imbalance” theory because it absolves me of blame and the science-y-ness promises a neat fix? Or are my neuroses fair enough given the state of the world today? Is my fear of crowds, confined spaces, financial ruin, being touched, etc., a reasonable evolutionary response, albeit one that has got a little bit off kilter? I’ve asked these questions for years. We have to, we anxious folk.” -Sarah Wilson
  • “I’d say anxiety creates a resilience to thrive in this life. Anxiety is a beautiful thing.” -Sarah Wilson
  • “You take a deep, free breath, expand a little, and get on with better things.” -Sarah Wilson

Another fun fact about Sarah is that in an attempt to counteract thyroid issues, anxiety, and to strengthen her gut health, she cut out all processed foods, caffeine, and sugar! Talk about dedication to growth - she’s living proof of what she writes about and that is inspiring!

 

Thank you so much for reading! I hope you’ll read some of these books and get a jolt of inspiration just like I did. Happy reading! xx, Britt