Great! thanks I really love self-improvement

Depression blows. Anxiety isn’t any fun either. And perhaps the only thing worse than the well-intentioned friends and family who implore you to just “get over it” or advise you to “keep your head up” is the fact that there are approximately 3,102 crappy books out there promising to wave a little wand and sprinkle fairy dust in your ass, and everything will instantly be better.

In my experience, the best books on dealing with anxiety and depression are the best because they are honest about the situation. There is this thing that sucks, and you’re not going to magically make it go away. You have to deal with it, engage it, wrestle with it a bit and become stronger in the face of it.

I get hundreds of emails every month from people who struggle primarily with anxiety and depression. Many of them are looking for a solution or a piece of wisdom or advice. Unfortunately, the only thing I’m qualified to send them is this new care bear emoji I got on my phone. And that’s probably not a long-term solution for them.

So instead, I will send them here, to these books.

I’ve read a lot of books about anxiety and depression over the years and these are some of the best ones I’ve come across. They’re way more qualified than I am to help you through whatever suckage you’re experiencing. And this way, when nothing works and the world is still a steaming pile of dogshit, you can blame them and not me.

The three Types of Mental Health Books

Books about mental health come in three flavors:

  1. Greater Understanding/Research – These are books that explain what the latest research suggests that’s happening in your life/brain and what the most effective treatments may be. Building your understanding and knowledge about your problem can often be enough so that you can take care of it from there.
  2. Feeling Less Alone – These books are written primarily to inspire hope. Usually, the author has suffered from the same problem as you, except that their situation was orders of magnitude worse than yours. This has the double-whammy effect of a) reassuring you that you’re not the only one to go through shit like this, and b) that there is hope — if this guy/girl made it, so can you. “Feeling Less Alone” books tend to be the most emotionally powerful (and best-written) of the three flavors.
  3. Exercises/Actions – I’m personally not a huge fan of books that want you to take out a sheet of paper every other page and write a bunch of crap down. But I know some people are. And I know that some of these exercises can be highly effective. And if the exercises are well-done (usually constructed by a therapist/psychiatrist with tons of experience) you can get good results from these books.

All three flavors can be more/less useful given the situation/personality/tastes of the reader. That’s why I’ve specified the type for each book below.

One last statement before we get to the books. Why anxiety and depression together? Well, because they often occur together. In fact, they occur so often together that people will mistake one for the other. A close friend of mine recently spent the better part of a year constantly complaining of anxiety and stress, and upon a couple months of therapy, discovered that she had actually been deeply depressed. Similarly, I felt depressed for a brief period at the beginning of this year and looking back, it turns out I was incredibly anxious about something in my life and the feelings of lethargy/meaninglessness were merely my ways of escaping that anxiety.

So anxiety and depression are like two peas in a pod. Sonny and Cher. Bonnie and Clyde. Piss and vinegar. They’re a package deal. Much of what you’ll get from these books is an understanding between the two and recognizing when one or the other takes over.

The Best Books on Depression and Anxiety

1. The Noonday Demon: An Atlas of Depression by Andrew Solomon

Noonday demon: an atlas of depression

Focuses on: Depression
Type(s): Feeling Less Alone and Greater Understanding/Research

Solomon calls his book “An Atlas of Depression” and once you’ve covered about half of the 688 pages, you start to realize why: this is everything you would ever want to know about depression—the personal experience of it, the medical experience of it, the pharmacological treatments, the history of it, the cultural interpretations of it, and of course, Solomon’s own struggles with it. The book is a lot to take in. What carries the book, though, is the combination of how well-written it is, along with the shocking severity of Solomon’s own story.

I’m going to be honest. I’ve been reading about depression and mental health for many years. I’ve even suffered from some mild depressive episodes myself. I had no idea the depths this thing can reach. This is the only book I’ve ever read that makes me understand why a person might choose to end their own life.

Reading Noonday Demon changed a number of my attitudes and assumptions that I’ve had about not just depression, but antidepressants, therapy, and mental health. Had I read it while depressed myself, it would have surely given me more hope for my own situation, as well as helped me navigate getting myself out of it.

2. First, We Make the Beast Beautiful by Sarah Wilson

First, we make the beast beautiful

Focuses on: Anxiety
Type(s): Feeling Less Alone and Greater Understanding/Research

I loved this book but I don’t think everyone will. This is mostly due to Wilson’s writing style and, I suppose, the way her brain works. Like a chronically anxious person, First, We Make the Beast Beautiful is frenetic and at times, overly-energetic, leaping from story to story, back ten years to ahead five years to childhood to imagined old age, from personal disaster to scientific research to that thing my meditation teacher told me that, by the way, totally didn’t work, but hey, it’s funny now, looking back.

I enjoyed it because my brain (and writing) sometimes operates in the same way. But I’ve seen reviews online from anxious people who have commented that the book actually made them more anxious, just by reading it. Obviously, that’s not the goal.

But all of that aside, I think this book is the best demonstration of what it is to actually live with severe anxiety and still find a way to function and thrive in one’s life. Wilson has suffered from bipolar disorder, eating disorders, manic episodes, and intermittent depression. But the anxiety has always been there. Intensely there. And she’s somehow leveraged it to get her places. I’ve always argued that the key to anxiety is not getting rid of it but merely directing it in more productive ways. The heart of First, We Make the Beast Beautiful is the same argument, demonstrated through a vibrant (and slightly crazy) life that is unlike anything else I’ve quite come across before.

(Note: This book is not out yet in some countries.)

3. Feeling Good: The New Mood Therapy by David Burns

Feeling good: the new mood therapy

Focuses on: Both
Type(s): Exercises/Action

Godwin’s Law famously states that the longer any internet discussion continues, the probability of someone being compared to Hitler approaches 100%. Well, in my experience, the longer an internet discussion about depression, anxiety, or any other mental health problem goes on, the probability that Feeling Good gets recommended to them also approaches 100%. I see this book mentioned everywhere.

That’s because if you were going to write a comprehensive, “This is what three months with a CBT therapist would be like,” book, full of enough exercises to fill a small notebook, you’d have Feeling Good. Burns has done a fantastic job of essentially writing the closest replacement to a real therapist, and as a result, pretty much any time I come across someone who needs a therapist but can’t get one for some reason, this book is the insta-recommendation.

4. The Happiness Trap: How to Stop Struggling and Start Living by Russ Harris

The happiness trap

Focuses on: Both
Type(s): Greater Understanding/Research and Exercises/Action

I love this book. It was quite influential on me when I read it years and years ago and I was upset recently to find out that I had inadvertently ripped off one of the exercises in it in my Self-Knowledge PDF (it has since been fixed and credited appropriately).

Harris is probably the most visible proponent of something called ACT or Acceptance and Commitment Therapy. ACT is a relatively new form of therapy that argues that the key to dealing with depression, anxiety, or addiction is to not necessarily to remove bad feelings, but rather to develop mental tools and habits to simply weather them more effectively. Whereas CBT is focused on channeling pain and suffering into more productive interpretations and actions, ACT just says fuck it, bad feelings are bad feelings and they don’t necessarily have to mean anything at all if we don’t let them. To me, ACT is one of a number of more recent developments in psychology that incorporates some of the benefits of mindfulness, with a zest of eastern philosophy thrown in.

The Happiness Trap is also one of the most approachable and enjoyable psych reads out there. The writing is clear and fun, and the exercises are engaging. In my opinion, the best pop psychology books bring some humor and humanity to the subject, and this is one of the few books that pulls that off really well.

5. Self-Compassion: The Proven Power of Being Kind to Yourself by Kristin Neff

Self-compassion: the proven power of being kind to yourself

Focuses on: Both
Type(s): Greater Understanding/Research and Exercises/Action

In The Subtle Art of Not Giving a F*ck (yes, I had to find a way to plug my own shit here), I made the point that true self-esteem can’t be a measure of how someone feels about their successes, it must be a measure of how we feel about our failures.

This isn’t a terribly original idea. People have been shitting on self-esteem for a couple decades now. But Neff is the first psychologist to conceptualize an alternative metric for self-esteem: self-compassion.

People with self-compassion can weather failures, can forgive themselves for screwing up, can accept their insecurities and flaws and try despite them.

Ignore the cheesiness of the title here. Self-compassion is the answer to every time you’ve ever heard someone say, “hey, don’t be so hard on yourself,” without any explanation of how to not be so hard on yourself. Neff has not only proposed this as a more effective measurement of psychological health than self-esteem but she’s also done research into how we get there. How do we cultivate self-compassion? How do we forgive ourselves for fucking up, for not living up to what we want from ourselves, for having failures and down moments and days where nothing seems to go right?

Like many pop psychology books, her examples and anecdotes are sometimes cliche-ridden, but the central idea is important enough that this book is still worth a read if you are the insanely self-critical type.

Can reading about depression and anxiety actually help you?

While I think this list of books will help you better understand depression and anxiety, you might still be wondering: will they actually help me with my depression and anxiety?

Well, I’d answer that with “it depends.” (Sorry, but you had to have seen that coming.)

I love books. I read them every single day. But if you’re reading a book with the hopes that you’ll be “fixed” simply by reading it, then no, none of these books will help you.

There’s a fine line between reading a book to gain a new perspective on a problem and reading a book to simply avoid the problem by intellectualizing it.

You could read every single book ever published on money and personal finance, but if you don’t apply that knowledge and save and invest your money, you’ll still be broke. You’ll understand why you’re broke really well, but you’ll still be broke.

This seems so obvious when it comes to more tangible outcomes like money or losing weight or whatever. But when it comes to our emotional and mental health, we often believe we can just think the problems away.

Getting your emotional and mental shit together is a lived experience. You have to face and endure the pain, not rationalize it away. This might be done with a therapist or a family member or a good friend. In some cases, you might be able to do it alone. But no matter what, it has to be done, not simply thought about and analyzed.

So, yes, these books are helpful—as a starting point. They will give you perspective on what your depression and anxiety really are and where they come from. They will show you that you’re not alone, that others have gone through what you’re going through, and that, yes, you can come out the other side a happier, stronger person.

They’ll make the work a bit easier. But you still have to do the work.

Looking for more books to read?

Well, I put together a list of over 200 of the best books to read, organized by topic. You should check it out, along with my all-time recommended reading list.

anyone like this as much as me

The Opportunity in Adversity

By Eckhart Tolle

Life unfolds between the polarities of order and chaos. It is important at this time to recognize these two fundamental opposites, without which the world could not even be. Another word for disorder is “adversity.” When it becomes more extreme, we might call it “chaos.”

We would prefer, of course, to have order in our lives, which means to have things going well. We would like relative harmony in our lives. Yet, that very often is marred by the eruption of some form of disorder. And, usually, we resent that—we get angry, or despondent, or sad.

Disorder comes in many, many forms, big and small. When disorder comes it usually creates a kind of havoc in our lives, accompanied by strong underlying beliefs. “There’s something very wrong, this should not be happening, maybe God is against me,” and so on. Again, we need to understand that disorder, or adversity, is inevitable and is an essential part of a higher order.

 From a higher perspective, a higher level, the existence of order and disorder, or order and chaos, is a necessary part of the evolution of life.

 Many people have found that they experience a deepening, or a deeper sense of self or beingness, immediately after and as a result of having endured a period of disorder or chaos. This is sometimes called “the dark night of the soul,” a term from medieval Christianity used to describe the mental breakdown that many mystics experienced prior to awakening spiritually. There was an eruption of disorder, of destruction. Then, out of that, a deeper realization arose.

 And although that can be very painful, the strange thing is, it’s precisely there that many humans experience a transcendence. A strange fact is that it almost never happens that people awaken spiritually while they’re in their comfort zone. Or that they become deeper as human beings, which would be a partial awakening. It almost never happens. The place where the evolutionary shift happens, or the evolutionary leap, is usually the experience of disorder in a person’s life.

And so your life then moves between order and disorder. You have both, and they’re both necessary. There’s no guarantee that when disorder erupts this will bring about an awakening or a deepening, but there’s always the possibility. It is an opportunity, but often, it is missed.

 So here we are at this time, and our mission is the same: to align with the present moment, with whatever is happening here and now. The upheaval that we’re experiencing at the present time probably will not be the last upheaval that’s going to come on a collective level. However, it is an opportunity—because although this is a time for upheavals, it is also a time for awakening. The two go together. Just as in an individual life, you need adversity to awaken. It’s an opportunity but not a guarantee. And so what looks tragic and unpleasant on a conventional level is actually perfectly fine and as it should be on a higher level; it would not be happening otherwise. It’s all part of the awakening of human beings and of planetary awakening.

To learn more about Eckhart’s teachings on Conscious Manifestation, click here.

Join for free and receive upcoming articles, teachings, special announcements, and more.

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The post The Opportunity in Adversity appeared first on Eckhart Tolle | Official Site – Spiritual Teachings and Tools For Personal Growth and Happiness.

who else gets this

The Opportunity in Adversity

By Eckhart Tolle

Life unfolds between the polarities of order and chaos. It is important at this time to recognize these two fundamental opposites, without which the world could not even be. Another word for disorder is “adversity.” When it becomes more extreme, we might call it “chaos.”

We would prefer, of course, to have order in our lives, which means to have things going well. We would like relative harmony in our lives. Yet, that very often is marred by the eruption of some form of disorder. And, usually, we resent that—we get angry, or despondent, or sad.

Disorder comes in many, many forms, big and small. When disorder comes it usually creates a kind of havoc in our lives, accompanied by strong underlying beliefs. “There’s something very wrong, this should not be happening, maybe God is against me,” and so on. Again, we need to understand that disorder, or adversity, is inevitable and is an essential part of a higher order.

 From a higher perspective, a higher level, the existence of order and disorder, or order and chaos, is a necessary part of the evolution of life.

 Many people have found that they experience a deepening, or a deeper sense of self or beingness, immediately after and as a result of having endured a period of disorder or chaos. This is sometimes called “the dark night of the soul,” a term from medieval Christianity used to describe the mental breakdown that many mystics experienced prior to awakening spiritually. There was an eruption of disorder, of destruction. Then, out of that, a deeper realization arose.

 And although that can be very painful, the strange thing is, it’s precisely there that many humans experience a transcendence. A strange fact is that it almost never happens that people awaken spiritually while they’re in their comfort zone. Or that they become deeper as human beings, which would be a partial awakening. It almost never happens. The place where the evolutionary shift happens, or the evolutionary leap, is usually the experience of disorder in a person’s life.

And so your life then moves between order and disorder. You have both, and they’re both necessary. There’s no guarantee that when disorder erupts this will bring about an awakening or a deepening, but there’s always the possibility. It is an opportunity, but often, it is missed.

 So here we are at this time, and our mission is the same: to align with the present moment, with whatever is happening here and now. The upheaval that we’re experiencing at the present time probably will not be the last upheaval that’s going to come on a collective level. However, it is an opportunity—because although this is a time for upheavals, it is also a time for awakening. The two go together. Just as in an individual life, you need adversity to awaken. It’s an opportunity but not a guarantee. And so what looks tragic and unpleasant on a conventional level is actually perfectly fine and as it should be on a higher level; it would not be happening otherwise. It’s all part of the awakening of human beings and of planetary awakening.

To learn more about Eckhart’s teachings on Conscious Manifestation, click here.

Join for free and receive upcoming articles, teachings, special announcements, and more.

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The post The Opportunity in Adversity appeared first on Eckhart Tolle | Official Site – Spiritual Teachings and Tools For Personal Growth and Happiness.

Anything about method is so important

The Opportunity in Adversity

By Eckhart Tolle

Life unfolds between the polarities of order and chaos. It is important at this time to recognize these two fundamental opposites, without which the world could not even be. Another word for disorder is “adversity.” When it becomes more extreme, we might call it “chaos.”

We would prefer, of course, to have order in our lives, which means to have things going well. We would like relative harmony in our lives. Yet, that very often is marred by the eruption of some form of disorder. And, usually, we resent that—we get angry, or despondent, or sad.

Disorder comes in many, many forms, big and small. When disorder comes it usually creates a kind of havoc in our lives, accompanied by strong underlying beliefs. “There’s something very wrong, this should not be happening, maybe God is against me,” and so on. Again, we need to understand that disorder, or adversity, is inevitable and is an essential part of a higher order.

 From a higher perspective, a higher level, the existence of order and disorder, or order and chaos, is a necessary part of the evolution of life.

 Many people have found that they experience a deepening, or a deeper sense of self or beingness, immediately after and as a result of having endured a period of disorder or chaos. This is sometimes called “the dark night of the soul,” a term from medieval Christianity used to describe the mental breakdown that many mystics experienced prior to awakening spiritually. There was an eruption of disorder, of destruction. Then, out of that, a deeper realization arose.

 And although that can be very painful, the strange thing is, it’s precisely there that many humans experience a transcendence. A strange fact is that it almost never happens that people awaken spiritually while they’re in their comfort zone. Or that they become deeper as human beings, which would be a partial awakening. It almost never happens. The place where the evolutionary shift happens, or the evolutionary leap, is usually the experience of disorder in a person’s life.

And so your life then moves between order and disorder. You have both, and they’re both necessary. There’s no guarantee that when disorder erupts this will bring about an awakening or a deepening, but there’s always the possibility. It is an opportunity, but often, it is missed.

 So here we are at this time, and our mission is the same: to align with the present moment, with whatever is happening here and now. The upheaval that we’re experiencing at the present time probably will not be the last upheaval that’s going to come on a collective level. However, it is an opportunity—because although this is a time for upheavals, it is also a time for awakening. The two go together. Just as in an individual life, you need adversity to awaken. It’s an opportunity but not a guarantee. And so what looks tragic and unpleasant on a conventional level is actually perfectly fine and as it should be on a higher level; it would not be happening otherwise. It’s all part of the awakening of human beings and of planetary awakening.

To learn more about Eckhart’s teachings on Conscious Manifestation, click here.

Join for free and receive upcoming articles, teachings, special announcements, and more.

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The post The Opportunity in Adversity appeared first on Eckhart Tolle | Official Site – Spiritual Teachings and Tools For Personal Growth and Happiness.

I always adore anything like this

Last week, I messed up. I disappointed people I care deeply about, and people who look up to me as a role model. I made the mistake of silencing the voices of the Black B-Schoolers in my FB group that needed to be heard during this time of deep pain following the horrific deaths of George Floyd, Ahmaud Arbery, Breonna Taylor and countless others.

Instead of creating a safe space for them to express their hurt and pain, I chose to temporarily close commenting without attempting to understand their point of view. 

I take full and complete responsibility for my mistake. I was 100% wrong. 

While we had guidelines in place about the type of posts and comments that are acceptable, our core values are rooted in kindness, compassion, and respect and I didn’t uphold those ideals. The fact is, Black people cannot separate their business from their race or any other aspect of their lives. Any business that has people of color as customers has a responsibility to acknowledge, respect, and embrace that. 

At the time, I had two glaring blindspots:

  1. Wanting to protect myself, while also having the privilege to pause thinking about race if I choose to do so.
  2. Not setting up my team to moderate online discussions on anti-racism. I hadn’t done that important work yet.

That’s white privilege. 

That’s unconscious bias on my part. 

Over the weekend, a number of Black women put time and energy into calling me in and educating me about these blind spots. To Rachel Rodgers, Trudi Lebron, and many more, I sincerely thank you. I didn’t know what I didn’t know, but you began to open my eyes. And for that, I’m grateful.

I finally did what I should have done at the beginning: I shut up, surrendered, and let go of my defensiveness.

That’s when things began to crack open. 

Where I Stand

One lesson that’s emerging from this time is the importance of stating and restating my values. So let me be crystal clear where I’m at on these issues. 

  • I stand in full support of the Black community and the Black Lives Matter movement. 
  • The U.S. criminal justice system needs a complete overhaul. It’s a racist system designed to protect white people and put Black people behind bars.
  • White privilege, white supremacy, and institutionalized racism must be dismantled now. As white people, it’s our job because we created this problem. Inequality exists because of us. We have to wake up, speak up, and get to work.
  • Economic, educational, housing, voting, and health inequalities that negatively impact marginalized communities, and specifically Black communities, must be made right. The playing field is not equal, and it never has been. Enough is enough.
  • I don’t care about losing followers or customers who want to blather on about “all lives matter” or pretend that they “don’t see color” or want to argue “reverse racism.” 

The Actions We’re Taking Now 

We will:

  1. Train our internal team to actively combat racism, with ongoing reinforcement training. This is a long-term initiative.
  2. Overhaul our management, leadership, and hiring practices to recognize bias and increase the number of Black people on our team.
  3. Prioritize the health and wellbeing of our team, especially our Black team members. That might mean resting, having conversations, supporting each other, being there for family — whatever they need.
  4. Actively remove people from our B-Schoolers Facebook community who participate in racist behavior and dialogue.
  5. Award at least 50% of our scholarships to B-School and The Copy Cure to businesses owned by BIPOC.
  6. Use our platform (MarieTV, The Marie Forleo Podcast, B-School, etc.) to feature, elevate, and promote more Black experts, authors, and creatives. 
  7. In B-School and future training programs, we’ll amplify Black-owned businesses and elevate their voices, visibility, and success.
  8. Make a $50,000 donation to Color of Change.

This is our action plan as of right now. I’m sure it will evolve as we learn, grow, and work closely with our community and team. 

We’re also having a lot of tough, but valuable conversations in the FB group. We’re connecting on a level that, frankly, we’ve never connected on before.

We’ve instituted office hours to facilitate constructive conversation. I’ve been in the comments connecting, listening, and learning. Last Friday, we had a very transformative experience on a Facebook Live. Over two hours, eight Black B-Schoolers spontaneously joined me to share their experiences and let me know how my actions impacted them. 

We’re sharing ideas and suggestions to make our community a safe place where everyone, but specifically Black people, can feel seen, heard, and understood. It’s a messy process doing this with over 30,000 people. There are a lot of disagreements. But we’re committed to growing forward together. 

We want that growth to be rooted in respect, love, and justice. 

They say that within any crisis lies great opportunity. I believe myself, the people of this country, and the world are embarking upon one of the greatest and most profound learning experiences and transformational shifts of all time. 

This Is A Marathon, Not A Sprint. 

There’s no getting back to business as usual.

We can’t quickly “do the work” and claim victory. 

We can’t unpack deep-seated, unconscious racism and undo injustice and discrimination in a weekend. 

This is not about attending an inclusivity webinar. Or watching a particular movie. Or reading a single book. 

There is no list of “The Top 5 Anti-Racist Actions” to add to your morning routine. 

Don’t look for a set of boxes to tick off and declare, “Well, we did that! Let’s move on!”

Change won’t happen overnight, but it will happen. It’s already happening. We need to come together and build long-lasting solutions that get at the root of these problems. This is an important journey that we’re going to take together. 

I also want to make something super clear: I’m 100% committed to use my voice and platform in this fight for justice and equality. Not for a day. Not for a week. But as a fundamental aspect of who I am and how I show up in the world.

My focus right now is on my B-School community and my team. 

This is where I caused the most hurt and this is where I must focus my efforts. Please know that work is being done in the background (it never seems to happen fast enough at times like this) that you will see rolled out over the weeks and months ahead. 

This is an awakening. This is an opportunity to take what I’ve built for 20 years and use it to do more good in the world than perhaps I’d ever imagined. 

Now, there’s one more important thing I need to say. 

Dear White People, Do Not Defend Me 

Anti-Blackness is so utterly pervasive, most of us can’t see that it exists — especially in ourselves. When we’re willing to see it, it’s uncomfortable. It’s disorienting. It can unleash a torrent of emotions like shame, denial, grief, regret, anguish, anger, guilt, and profound sadness. But being uncomfortable and sitting with that discomfort is required for real growth and lasting change. 

Spend your energy actively listening to Black people and other people of color right now. Listen to their stories. 

I invite you to learn alongside me. To begin the education process of becoming an anti-racist in every sphere and scope of your life. Then, you must commit to action. 

Bold, risky, imperfect, unrelenting action.

To everyone reading this right now, whatever your race or ethnicity…

With my whole heart, let’s find ways to create a fair, just, and equitable world together. 

There is no going back, there is only forward.

P.S. My focus right now is on my B-Schoolers Facebook group and Team. We’ve begun the healing process, and it’s a long road ahead. There’s a lot of important work to be done (like staying in conversation with my B-Schoolers, activating all the action plans I mentioned, educating myself and my team, etc.). In full transparency, I may not be able to respond to all comments, but I assure you that I’m actively reading, listening, and absorbing. 

With enormous love and respect,

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