J.R. R. Tolkien famously wrote that, “Not all who wander are lost.” But it seems that sometimes, we wander for so long contemplating what to do with ourselves that we forget who we were when we started.
Or, alternately, we are pushed and prodded along for 20-some years and by the time we graduate from college, we are left breathless and wondering “Who the hell am I?!”
If you find yourself identifying with either of these scenarios, check out the following five books that can help clear away the white noise of American society and help you hear yourself again.
Sure, this book has a long title, but it's all about falling in love with your life and finding your buried desires. But it's not clichéd and it's not written by some egomaniac who talks down to you.
This book is full of genuine advice designed to unlock the best in yourself and, as the title says, to find what it is you really want to do. The best part of this book is the exercises that accompany every chapter. They reinforce that you are ready and willing to continue unlocking your heart. Sher's wisdom and grandmotherly tone are exactly what is needed to identify your hidden desires without any judgment.
Okay, you're probably thinking, Another one by Barbara Sher?! But her advice is really THAT good. This book is all about what many Millennial's face: the dreaded nine-to-five job.
Sher invented the word “scanner,” which is someone who has so many interests and job desires that he can't simply choose one. Sher's advice: do them all! Her practical suggestions are full of ways to create a life your parents never would have dreamed; one that allows for choices.
This book boldly challenges the future of work in general. (Another book that examines how to get away from idealizing one job is Paula Caligiuri's “Get a Life, Not a Job.” Both books should be required reading for every college graduate.)
Take a step back from career books to focus on being fully awake. Many people believe that being mindful is about deadening the senses, when in fact, Thich Nhat Hanh says it's about bringing the senses to life.
Thich Nhat Hanh, a Vietnamese Buddhist monk, has written so many books that it seems impossible to keep count. But “Mindfulness” seems to be a cornerstone to his other works, and a cornerstone to the ability to slow down and just be.
This book isn't meant to turn you into a Buddhist monk or to even coerce you into becoming mindful, but it is full of wonderful anecdotes and gentle advice for people of all religious denominations.
It is a wonderful book that will help to escape the rat race and just to be quiet with a truly caring soul. You might gain some clarity, too.
It would be easy to complete this book in a single evening, but you'll want to give yourself more time to ponder the sagaciousness of each delightfully crafted essay.
Dr. Livingston's advice comes from his many years as a psychiatrist, as well as his own life experiences (he lost his oldest son to suicide and his youngest to leukemia in one 13-month period).
He writes on varied topics from “Any relationship is under the control of the person who cares the least” to “Only bad things happen quickly.” Each essay is full of interesting thoughts worth pondering, and all are about growing into the person who you seek to become.
Tom Hodgkinson is an independent thinker, which is where the beauty of his book lies. Where most bemoan the hangover, Hodgkinson praises it for the time to loaf; while everyone tells you that smoking is bad, Hodgkinson says otherwise.
Each essay is cleverly researched and incorporates history (mostly British) into its argument. For an entirely new and fresh perspective on how life, according to Hodgkinson, should be lived, this book captures the prize.
While it was difficult to whittle this list down to five, the preceding books are great places to find your wandering self, to reinvent yourself or to simply validate some of your thoughts.
With the advice of wise, experienced, caring people, you are sure to at least learn some new things about yourself. Enjoy the journey to becoming a better you.
Top Photo Courtesy: We Heart It