We are not only what we eat, but also what we read, watch, listen to, the kinds of conversations we have, the websites we visit… I eventually discovered that I feel a lot healthier and happier if I take in inspiring or classic books and media rather than trashy, violent novels and TV series (which I really overdosed on in the past.)
Below are a few of the books, audios, podcasts and films that have really helped and inspired me on the path to a calmer, happier life over recent years. This list is meant as a Thank You to them (rather than a suggestion that you should rush out and buy/consume them all at once – Don’t, you’ll go mad!) and will get bigger as I discover new wonderful things. Pick a title you like the sound of.
Happiness and Mindfulness Non-fiction
Peace is Every Step – Thich Nhat Hanh – This is the classic book that introduced me to this whole field, and to which I am eternally grateful. A great place to start.
When Things Fall Apart – Pema Chödrön – Very helpful if things really are falling apart.
Manhood – Steve Biddulph (For men) – Men’s place in the world can be confusing today, and this book helps.
Cutting Through Spiritual Materialism – Chögyam Trungpa – You’ll know if you need to read this from the title… I only read the first few chapters – enough!
(Auto)Biography, Wandering, Creating…
Walden – Henry David Thoreau – So good, extolling the virtues of a simple life better than anyone has since. If you have never read it, don’t hesitate, at least read the first third or so.
Into the Wild – Jon Krakauer – Makes you feel alive, and understand why people have to escape society to really feel alive themselves. An incredible story.
The Color Purple – Alice Walker – A spiritual classic.
A Gentleman in Moscow – Amor Towles – The novel I most enjoyed in 2018. It simply makes you feel better about the word.
To Kill A Mockingbird – Harper Lee – A classic, Atticus Finch is an incredible role model, especially for parents, one of the most moving books I have read.
The Art of Mindful Living – Thich Nhat Hanh – Simple, calming, practical and uplifting.
Being Peace – Thich Nhat Hanh – Again, simple, and very powerful ideas about how to live a happier life.
Loving What Is: Four Questions That Can Change Your Life – Byron Katie – Katie’s system for untangling our mental anguish is very interesting, as are the many real examples of one to one sessions included in this audio.
Thich Nhat Hanh Dharma Talks Podcast – Endless wisdom, many talks from Thich Nhat Hahn.
Jack Kornfield Dharma Talks/Podcast – Wise and Entertaining talks on a calmer, happier life.
La Sal de la Tierra/The Salt of the Earth – Directed by Wim Wenders and Juliano Ribeiro Salgado. One of the most profound films I have seen, an incisive look into the human condition, and our ability to construct beauty and hope from the most devastating of conditions.
It’s a wonderful life – Directed by Frank Capra – It was years before I saw this Christmas classic, now I watch it, and weep with joy, every December.