Times Are Tough? So Are You!

These books are the ones I turn to when I want clarity, control or just to feel good.

1. Atomic Habits (by James Clear)

This book will help you go back to basics, feel in control again. To feel in control, you must take control over everything you can and, sadly, the only thing you can control is only yourself.

Winners and losers have the same goals.

“Atomic Habits”, by James Clear

You can’t control pandemics, you can’t stop war. But you can control your everyday actions. This book will help you start small and feel incrementally better.

Be the designer of your world and not merely the consumer of it.

“Atomic Habits”, by James Clear

The key takeaway from it is that, paradoxically, habits give you freedom. You take the time to form a habit and it will bring you results over and over again. It will also help you make better decisions and free your time for your brain to deal with more important stuff than “should I cook today or order some pizza?”.

Strive to make good actions an instinct rather than a decision and your life will be better everyday because of it.

Of course, in times of trouble, one of the priority habits to implement is better self-care. That will help you relieve stress about anything else.

Success is the product of daily habits – not once-in-a-lifetime transformations.

“Atomic Habits”, by James Clear
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2. Man’s Search for Meaning (by Viktor Frankl)

Viktor Frankl spent time in Auschwitz and survived. He wrote this book about it. If he can survive that, along with the loss of his entire family and live to talk about overcoming obstacles and suffering, I feel we have no excuse.

Those who have a “why” to live, can bear with almost any “how”.

“Man’s Search for Meaning” by Viktor E. Frankl

He is the perfect representation of finding meaning and value in suffering and developed an entire therapy type based on his experience. Logotherapy is one of the most valuable contributions to psychology since the works of Freud and Jung.

“Man’s Search for Meaning” depicts his experience as a prisoner. He had begun developing logotheray before his imprisonment, making it the perfect opportunity to practice it on himself and to better observe those around him. Reading about it was, surprisingly, optimistic and inspiring.

When we are no longer able to change a situation, we are challenged to change ourselves.

“Man’s Search for Meaning” by Viktor E. Frankl

It will be especially helpful in making you practice acceptance of things out of your control. I highly recommend it!

An abnormal reaction to an abnormal situation is normal behaviour.

“Man’s Search for Meaning” by Viktor E. Frankl
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3. The Old Man and the Sea (by Ernest Hemingway)

Do not be fooled by the length of this book! This is a very,very short classic and, yet, it contains as much wisdom as possible. (You can also read about it more here)

No one should be alone in their old age.

“The Old Man and the Sea”, by Ernest Hemingway.

The old man named Santiago is a fisherman who, in the past 84 days, hasn’t been able to catch any fish. Very poor and alone, he goes out at sea again. This time, he goes very far out and has a chance of catching a really big fish. Will he succeed? Unimportant!

This is a story about his trials, his suffering and his unwillingness to give up. It was incredibly powerful and motivating! Whatever the situation, however old and tired and lonely, however little cooperation he got from his body, no matter the pain he endured, he kept going.

He is my hero and he will definitely inspire you to get up and face whatever troubles are ahead.

Now is no time to think of what you do not have. Think of what you can do with what there is.

“The Old Man and the Sea”, by Ernest Hemingway.
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4. Eat, Pray, Love (by Elizabeth Gilbert)

I find it difficult to believe you haven’t read it so far, but, if you did, you should read it again. If not, you’re in for a treat!

This book mixes worldly pleasures (Yummy worldly pleasures) with spirituality and love. It doesn’t get any better than that! It is a personal journey the author did herself, leaving the perfect life (husband, house, successful career) to travel the world.

There’s a crack (or cracks) in everyone…that’s how the light of God gets in.

“Eat, Pray, Love”, by Elizabeth Gilbert.

The ideas and the writing are perfectly thought to put you in a good mood, able to enjoy (sadly only in your mind) her experience as if you were there with her! This is the book that inspired me to take up yoga and travel to India. It wakes up all your desires to feel good and gives you the way to put them in practice.

I’m choosing happiness over suffering, I know I am. I’m making space for the unknown future to fill up my life with yet-to-come surprises.

“Eat, Pray, Love”, by Elizabeth Gilbert.
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5. Letters from a Stoic (by Seneca)

If all else fails, I always turn to the stoics. Their practical philosophy always makes me re-evaluate my life, my priorities and my decisions.

If you really want to escape the things that harass you, what you’re needing is not to be in a different place, but to be a different person.

“Letters from a Stoic” by Lucius Annaeus Seneca

The contemplation of death as an impulse for living better is one of their principles I find most impacting. So is taking pleasure in simple things, meditating, making time for mental health…Seneca basically addresses in simple terms everything one should do to live a better, richer, more meaningful life.

Enjoy present pleasures in such a way as not to injure future ones.

“Letters from a Stoic” by Lucius Annaeus Seneca

“This too shall pass” – accepting that everything is forever changing – the good, as well as the bad, is what I think about the most in troubled times.

Seneca’s words are encouraging and inspiring, no matter what your problems are.

If you live in harmony with nature you will never be poor; if you live according to what others think, you will never be rich.

“Letters from a Stoic” by Lucius Annaeus Seneca
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When you feel anxious, sad or fearful about tough times you’re going through, what you need is to take back control of your life. These books will help you, each in their own way, to feel better and take action.

Have you read any of them? What is you go-to book when you feel sad?

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