Spiritual Summer Books

With summer upon us, visions of blessedly unplanned waterside forays come to mind. But after you slather on the SPF gazillion, how will you spend your time on the beach blanket? Perhaps you will want to nap or meditate, but when you’re done with all that and out of fresh ideas to ruminate upon, your best bet is a good book to capture your imagination.

Better yet, you may want to choose from the bounty of books that will keep you feeling upbeat and give you some of the tools to help you tackle the world once your summer break is over.

Secrets to success
Where to start? How about with Positivity, by Barbara Fredrickson? She stresses optimism’s effect on your creativity. By taking note of your physical surroundings and viewing life as a glass that’s half-full, you are more likely to derive the positive energy that will open your mind to new concepts and allow you to flourish.

In the book, Fredrickson – a psychology professor – points out that positivity isn’t merely happiness. It is something that is exuded from such positive emotions as “love, joy, gratitude, serenity, interest, and inspiration” as they “touch and open your heart.” You know how you get that slightly choked up, get that goosebumps-on-your-arm feeling when you’ve done a true kindness to someone else? According to Positivity, you should latch on to that feeling, and let it spread over you. While you’re awash with that positive energy you are primed for vibrant thoughts and creative gusto. She also points out that people who have positivity in their lives tend to bounce back from adversity faster, and live more productive lives.

In Rapt: Attention and the Focused Life, Winifred Gallagher writes about focusing more while undertaking endeavors of various kinds. She cites Tiger Woods as an example of someone whose discipline contributed to his success as a golfer. Presumably, he wasn’t pulled away from his focus by techno toys or Twittering, which would have kept him from his primary intent. Furthermore, she notes that happy people tend to focus on the positive, whereas unhappy people don’t. Not surprising! But she says that even a “Debbie Downer” can use cognitive theory and mindfulness meditation to eventually look – as Monty Python’s Brian did – on the bright side of life.

Another reading option for manifesting positive life circumstances is The Circle: How the Power of a Single Wish Can Change Your Life by Laura Day. This updated version contains a workbook to help you define your path and reach it with greater cognition. Day stresses that you can change your world by making “subtle, organic changes in yourself,” and that “often, the change comes as a result of timing and opportunity.” It’s no coincidence that this is also the formula for success. But the subtle shift that occurs when you find yourself at the crossroad of “Timing Road and Opportunity Boulevard” is what opens you to positive change. You’ll learn to create your own reality through exercises, explanations, and visualization techniques that are designed to allow change for the better.

If it’s resilience that you need to work on, then try reading The Secrets of the Bulletproof Spirit: How to Bounce Back From Life’s Hardest Hits, by Azim Khamisa and Jillian Quinn. The authors state that there are essentially two types of people: There are those who fling their arms skyward and cry “why me?” when hit with adversity, and then lash out at others and become defeatist in their attitudes. And there are those who face adversity head on, acquiring greater strength from it with a sort of “that which doesn’t kill me makes me stronger” attitude. We see this in Holocaust survivors who embrace life even after the unthinkable was inflicted upon them. They are likely to live longer, happier lives than those who become mired in the darkness that befell them. Khamisa, a peace activist, and Quinn, an inspirational speaker, collaborate to provide 30 keys that define your resiliency quotient, types of negative thinking that may be keeping you down, and ways to take control of your life. You will find yourself emotionally bulletproof if you can absorb the advice imparted in this book, the authors promise. Sounds like a winner!

As for all those excuses you like to throw out for any number of issues, you’ll have to quash them once you read Excuses Begone!: How to Change Lifelong, Self-Defeating Thinking Habits, by Wayne W. Dyer. No more will you be able to point to your age as an excuse for being single, or your busy life as an excuse for lack of exercise, or your emotional ties as an excuse for staying in a dying relationship. This book teaches you to change your habitual thinking, and open yourself up to reexamination by attacking each excuse with specific questions – and then following a step-by-step process to achieve a new awareness and approach. Don’t have time to read this? Excuses, excuses!

Emotional cleansing
Finally, there’s Emotional Freedom, by Judith Orloff, which teaches you to trade anxiety and stress for happiness and serenity. She helps you pinpoint your emotional weaknesses and find emotional strength via anecdotal information, psychology, and energy techniques. With constructive plans to ward off everything from energy vampires to feelings of being overwhelmed, she leaves you feeling in control of your life and better able to handle the challenges that arise. The book is written in a conversational style, and Orloff draws you in to each of her chapters while giving you exercises to combat your emotional issues (and, yes: everyone has them).

With all that good reading and sound advice filling up your beach bag or backpack, you should have a full summer’s worth of spiritual uplift awaiting you!

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