As I’ve begun the school year and all the hectic details that involves, I find myself drawing from a few books that have been good for my soul. I did quite a bit of reading in the realm of self-healing and happiness last summer, and I continue to draw on those reading experiences. Here are a few more of my favorites:
Daring Greatly by Brene Brown
This is a book that I’ve heard about time and again since I finished it; that’s probably the same phenomenon that happens when you consider buying a car and all of a sudden you see them everywhere. The book was first recommended to me by my dear friend Nika Maples several months ago, and for various reasons I took my time getting through the book.
Brown’s key idea is that to be influential in any way and to live a life of meaning, we must practice vulnerability. This vulnerability will allow us to be more effective leaders, educators, and parents.
One important idea that I took away from the book is that empathy is a way for us to overcome our own feelings of worthlessness and to connect with others who deal with their own sense of shame. Adolescents are experiencing some of the strongest emotions they will face in their entire lives, and learning how to model emotional health for my students is a goal of mine.
The Power of Less by Leo Babauta
I first learned of Leo Babauta by stumbling upon his blog Zen Habits. This book was concise, easy and quick to read, and packed with useful tips about how to have “less” in our lives: less stuff, less business, less stress, less interruption, less unhappiness. This was a quick read and an even quicker addition to the list of books I will actually purchase.
One tip that I’ve been trying to implement is Babauta’s idea of “MITs” or “Most Important Tasks” for each day. To keep myself on track, I don’t make a list of everything I could do that day, but instead a list of the two, three, or four most important tasks I want to accomplish.
Happier at Home by Gretchen Rubin
I read Gretchen Rubin’s first book, The Happiness Project, last spring as part of my happiness themed reading. When I found that the library had her second book about happiness available on audio book, I promptly checked it out. In this project, Rubin focuses on home and family, creating the most happiness she can in her immediate surroundings. Some of the information in this book is quite similar to what can be found in her first book, but that doesn’t bother me. I generally like reading similar information in a slightly different way so that I experience multiple ways and therefore remember it better.
One of my favorite of Gretchen’s rules is “Don’t let the perfect be the enemy of the good.” As a recovering perfectionist, I remind myself of this frequently and try to just get things done! As teacher I always have to remember to try new things even in their unfinished state. The lesson or presentation or handout might not be perfect, but it’s better to try something new than never try anything until I feel it’s perfect enough to release into the world.
As a teacher of seniors, I also liked this one: “The days are long, but the years are short.” Each year I start not knowing any of my students, and I only have one year to get to know them before they graduate, a very different situation than when I taught 9th or 10th grade and students were around to walk by on their way to class and chat about how their years were going. Sometimes, when teaching seniors, the days get very long indeed, days filled with worry that students won’t graduate or frustration with the heightened emotions of teenagers facing the future. But at the end of the year, I always feel a sense of amazement at how short my time was with any particular class. I want to be sure that I take the time to appreciate the time I get to spend with each unique class of students, even as the year gets hectic.
What are books that have fed your soul lately? What books are helping you on the journey of this life?
“It’s Monday! What Are You Reading?” is a meme hosted by Sheila at Book Journey. It’s a great way to keep track of what you’re reading and see what others are reading each week.