I have always been a reader, in fact books are my ‘shoe addiction’. A bookshop is my go-to place. Little wonder then that when I have faced the challenging times in my life, I have dived into the world of books, in part to seek connection with someone else in my predicament, but equally to find comfort, hope and maybe even a few answers too.
There are some books that are staples for, it seems, any crises, the ones you can return to no matter the challenging issues you face and find comfort, possibility, beauty, tenderness, reassurance and even inspiration and motivation sometimes. I share a few from my go-to list here because if they help anyone else even a fraction of how they helped me, then it could be well worth it…
A holocaust survivor, mother, and psychologist, this woman wrote her first book, ‘The Choice’ in her nineties and soon followed up with a second, ‘The Gift’. And like a fine wine, she overflows with the best quality, when it comes to life lessons.
Containing pearls from her professional experience, it is perhaps more the wisdom gained from her own experience, her own inspirational story and her powerful ‘can do’ attitude, that makes her writing so appetising to read.
But lest we think Eger is only comfortable showing herself as an ‘expert’, know that she is also well able to show the vulnerability of being human, which makes it easy for readers to identify with her, and thus navigate the possibility too, that they, like her, can overcome life’s challenges, with the right attitude.
With refreshing honesty, she acknowledges that the journey of vulnerability is not, or never will be ‘over’ either for her, or any of the rest of us, but that it is how we choose to handle this reality that can be the difference between moving on positively, or staying stuck in the dark. If you’re looking for inspiration in life, this is it!
I put these two together because they are books about not only outmanoeuvring the challenge immediate to us through working with the mind, but about figuring out too, a spiritual purpose and dimension to it.
While not everyone is spiritual, or desires to be, the big picture references to life, from purpose, to growth, and why negative experiences might be part of that process, could be helpful to anyone trying to get context around their own difficult moments, and the positive learnings that can come from them.
Please note… both were written in a time before the whole gender debate, (yes, there may be lots of masculine references instead of people references) which might be irksome to some.
Bernie Siegel, an American oncologist, was the first person that validated for me that the patient experience is not just about stats, medication, and hospital stays, but about the ‘human being’ in illness needing hope, joy and positive experiences, as much as any of the traditional medication options, to cope with illness.
His medical approach is one of offering a wholesome holistic experience to the patient, which includes the need for good communication skills, and a need to understand ‘what works for the patient’, in addition to the medical clinical skillset they will need.
His more than accurate depictions of how the profession and systems we use in healthcare can act as both cure, but also part of making the ill-health experience all the worse, are identifiable for anyone who’s has been through a healthcare system.
I went through a phase of reading everything I could lay my hands on by Louise Hay, because it was my first encounter with the notion of self-empowerment in healing.
Her books also give readers the seeds for growing the self-compassion that most of us so often lack.
While I’m not fully convinced that the strategy of affirmations and visualisations always lead to manifesting same (frankly I think life unfolds as a result of more than just human effort and will power), I will say that the positive, uplifting, hopeful and empowering words she offers in each of her books do indeed feel medicinal and wonderfully infectious when it comes to growing hope and possibility for the future. You can see her full catalogue of books here.
And finally, for my fellow heart patient buddies out there, or indeed anyone interested in looking after their hearts, a specific book that I found helpful to learning about the heart and the integration of nutrition with cardiac function was The Sinatra Solution Metabolic Cardiology, by the Internationally renowned cardiologist, Dr. Stephen Sinatra
While it’s quite technical in places, understanding the heart from cell level upwards and how we can influence the molecular and functional aspects of these cells through diet, vitamins and enzymes was, for me, fascinating!
These are but SOME of the books I have found helpful… the list goes on and on! They may not appeal to everyone, but I would urge you to seek out those that do, because in our moments of feeling overwhelmed, lost, or unsure, having the stability and reliability of books, authors, words, advice and guidance that connects with our hearts, minds and souls, can be so comforting, reassuring, uplifting, inspiring, motivational and, if we are very lucky, transformative too!
Pauline O’Shea 💖
© Pauline O’Shea
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