The right book can fuel personal growth and help you lead a happier life.
Thema Bryant, president of the American Psychological Association and professor of psychology at Pepperdine University, says there are a handful of books that have helped her deal with past trauma, refine her self-care regime and to evoke more compassion for herself and others. .
“I like to point out key passages to read and think about again,” says Bryant, who did his postgraduate training in the Victims of Violence program at Harvard Medical Center. “Because we change over time, we can gain new knowledge when we read it again.”
Here are seven books she recommends for those who want to create a happy and fulfilling life.
1. The Self-Care Prescription: Powerful Solutions to Manage Stress, Reduce Anxiety, and Increase Well-Being
by Robyn Gobin
Good for: Those who neglect themselves and are often busy working or caring for others.
“Dr. Gobin, a psychologist, offers practical steps to improve your holistic health,” says Bryant. “Unlike many self-help books, it incorporates awareness of race, gender and faith.”
2. All those rivers and you chose love
by Jaiya John
Good for: Those who need to learn to feel compassion for themselves.
“I often read this insightful book in the morning as a good way to remind myself that I can choose how I present myself and how I shape my day,” she says. “Showing up with compassion for myself and others is an intentional act of grace.”
3. Rest is resistance: a manifesto
by Tricia Hersey
Good for: Agents of change, activists and advocates.
“It’s a beautiful reminder that while we work to improve the world around us, the world within us deserves to be taken care of,” Bryant said. “Rest is a revolutionary act, especially for racially marginalized people who are often forced to focus on work rather than wholeness.”
4. Drama Free: A guide to dealing with unhealthy family relationships
by Nedra Glover Tawwab
Good for: Those who have conflicts and challenges in their family life.
“Nedra, a licensed therapist, provides scientific steps to heal and, at times, release unhealthy family dynamics,” says Bryant.
5. Try Softer: A New Approach to Getting Us Out of Anxiety, Stress, and Survival Mode — and Into a Life of Connection and Joy
by Audi Kolber
Good for: Trauma survivors.
“As a trauma survivor and trauma psychologist, I enjoyed this book,” says Bryant. “Surviving overwhelming experiences can lead us to live in survival mode, fighting and defending ourselves perpetually. Aundi, a caring therapist, gives keys to breathing, softening and living with more peace.”
6. What happened to you? : Conversations on Trauma, Resilience and Healing
by Bruce D. Perry and Oprah Winfrey
Good for: Trauma survivors.
“It helps them make the connection between what they’ve been through and their current life,” she says. “By understanding themselves better, people can take steps toward healing.”
7. Something Happened in Our Park: Standing Together After Gun Violence
by Ann Hazzard, Marianne Celano and Marietta Collins
Good for: Families who need help talking about gun violence.
“This is a great resource written by three psychologists to help families have meaningful and healing conversations in the aftermath of gun violence,” says Bryant. “It provides keys for healthy coping to tackle anxiety as well as inspiration to work together to transform the community.”
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