2019 has been kind to me. The business had a few breakthroughs, I got lucky in love, and the family is sound.
That said, through the year, there were many testing moments.
Reading books helped me got through those times, providing clarity, respite, and an alternative perspective.
The three following reads are my favourite ones this year. If you piece them together, you’ll realise they have a common theme: they’re therapeutic, especially in the moments where you need strength, and they guide you towards a more bearable life.
This birthday, I wish that if you find yourself picking up these books, they’ll provide you as much joy and comfort as they did for me.
1. Maybe You Should Talk To Someone: A Therapist, Her Therapist, and Our Lives Revealed
Lori Gottlieb, the author, is a psychotherapist. In this book, she shares her stories of visiting her own therapist, a profession which she notes is spelt the same way as “the rapist” partly because clients sometimes have to open up uncomfortbaly for treatment to work. Another reason is that that very fact creates a barrier between them and the people who needs their help the most.
“The more you welcome your vulnerability…the less afraid you’ll feel.”
To be honest, I’m not sure what’s more comforting, the captivating writing and story-telling, or the fact that even those with more mental health awareness needs assistance sometimes.
What makes it more interesting is that while Gottlieb was going through her own therapy, she was seeing clients and helping them through their lives.
Each client has his/her own set of struggles, often reflecting a part of them (and ourselves) that require change in order to find more self-acceptance.
And sometimes, change can be incredibly hard.
But no matter what the concerns are, be it the more common topics that she faced like death, isolation, freedom, and meaninglessness, or something less drastic, it’s evident that change is often possible.
Most big transformations come about from the hundreds of tiny, almost imperceptible, steps we taken along the way.
That’s insightful for me, partly because sometimes, it’s hard to realise the change within us that comes with every tiny action we take day-to-day.
My main takeaway, however, is that our lives are often more intertwined than we think – our therapists may need a therapist, our teachers are still learning new things, and our parents are also still adulting.
In a way, we are all mirrors reflecting mirrors reflecting mirrors, and we can always be more self-aware, understanding, and compassionate.
2.Trailblazer: The Power of Business as the Greatest Platform for Change
The second book on this list is my most recent read. It came at a time where I found myself questioning how I can improve my own business.
Like the author Marc Benioff who founded Salesforce, I’ve always believed that businesses can do better in driving social changes. But truth is, such organisations remain rare.
As such, there are not many examples to learn from when, for example, I’ll like to make the world a more compassionate place through sports.
Benioff provided several cases of how his company infused their values of trust, customer success, innovation, and equality throughout their policies, actions, and culture.
He shared about how he navigated controversial business-social issues like gun law, homelessness, racial and sex divide, environmentalism, etc. and what he learnt from those experiences.
He also shared about how his company approaches things like goal-settings, values, and stakeholder relationships.
“I think anyone who’s been in business a long time knows that relationships in business are just like those in life, in the sense that it’s all about connection, not transaction. Business is temporal, but relationships are eternal. Which means they have to be genuine, and built on common ground.”
By learning about specific examples, I was able to come up with a clearer picture of how I can improve my own business.
On the whole, as an entrepreneur, I found his case for using businesses to drive change compelling and empowering. I highly recommend this book to fellow entrepreneurs and those interested in management/businesses.
3.The Things You Can See Only When You Slow Down
The last book on this list also happens to be the only hardcopy book I bought this year (I usually read on the kindle app).
The main reason is so that I can stay away from electronic devices when I read this book, becuase with them around, it can be hard to truly slow down.
It also means that everytime I pick up this book, it’s already a comforting thought. And perhaps that’s the reason why this is my go-to book when I need clarity these days.
The book is filled with digestable short nuggets like the extract at the end of this post, and it covers author Haemin Sunim’s thoughts and reflections in various topics.
The chapters include relationship, love, passion, mindfulness, the future, etc.
Most of the extracts are thought-provoking and gentle nudges for you to find answers within yourself. It’s an art to think deeply, so I truly appreciate it when the book is able to not only help me do so, but also point out things I that I’ve missed in the midst of all the hustle and bustle.
I leave you with an excerpt in the book I which helped me much, because perhaps more of us could do with such wisdom.
“Love comes naturally and effortlessly.
If you try to love someone, then it is not real until you stop trying.”