If You’re Feeling Directionless in Life, These Books Will Help

Self-help books to guide you towards your best life.

If You’re Feeling Directionless in Life, These Books Will Help
Photo by Heidi Fin on Unsplash

Self-help books to guide you towards your best life.

I’ve spent years working on building my self-awareness.

I switched careers, moved to a different city, started the business of my dreams, and earned enough money to buy back my time.

And yet, there are days when I feel lost and directionless. I wonder where I’m headed, and if anything I’m so obsessed with perfecting today will have any impact in the long run.

On days such as these, when all hope seems to be lost, I turn to my truest friends: books. Books have guided me through worst phases of my life, and when I start questioning all my decisions, books are there to rescue me.

In this article, I’ve put together four of my favorite books that impacted me deeply. If you’re feeling directionless in life, let these books guide you and show the way.

1. Year of Yes by Shonda Rhimes

Image: Goodreads

I sometimes fail to understand whether I say no to something to protect my peace or to remain in my comfort zone a while longer. 

I’m well aware how one YES can change your life’s trajectory.

If you’re getting comfortable saying NO to almost everything, it may not be a good sign. You might end up building a wall around yourself without even realizing it. The no to exploring something new might be coming from the fear inside. Once that NO is changed to YES, numerous opportunities will arise. 

Year of Yes is a witty yet deep memoir of the creator of popular TV shows like “Grey’s Anatomy” and “Scandal.” It records the transformation in the author’s life when she started saying yes to everything she feared. 

One Thanksgiving party and a conversation with her sister changed her life. When her sister bluntly said, “You never say yes to anything”, she took it as a wake-up call. She experimented for a whole year, saying yes to everything that scared her or excited her. Being an introvert, she often had panic attacks before attending social events. And this one year changed it all.

I still remember if I hadn’t given myself a year to follow my heart and started writing, you wouldn’t be reading my articles here. This book has played an important role in shaping my belief system. I’ve conquered my fears and what-ifs before publishing an article or a book. I said yes to pole dancing which unlocked new levels of fearlessness in me. I’m inspired to overcome more fears and say yes to the opportunities that excite me. 

My dear readers, you can do that too.

With each chapter of the book, Rhimes embraces the opportunities she used to avoid. She worked on her fears, health, and personal life by stepping out of her comfort zone. 

If you say yes to new experiences, you say yes to the endless possibilities in life. This book teaches an important lesson that staying true to yourself and letting go of fears can help you become the best version of yourself.

My favorite quotes from Year of Yes by Shonda Rhimes

“Happiness comes from living as you need to, as you want to. As your inner voice tells you to. Happiness comes from being who you actually are instead of who you think you are supposed to be.”
“Dreams are lovely. But they are just dreams. Fleeting, ephemeral. Pretty. But dreams do not come true just because you dream them. It’s hard work that makes things happen. It’s hard work that creates change.”
“Don’t let what he wants eclipse what you need. He is very dreamy,” she says. “But he is not the sun. You are.”

2. Braving the Wilderness by Brené Brown

Image: Goodreads

There were times when I felt disconnected from the people around me, as if I didn’t truly belong where I was. Only later I understood that this happens when you lack authenticity. You’re not being true to yourself and maybe others. As a result, you feel directionless and lost in life. 

If you wish to find your true self, purpose, and connect with the surroundings so you feel you belong, then Braving the Wilderness by Brené Brown can be a game changer.

The book starts by discussing the paradox of belonging. We humans feel isolated and disconnected even in a world that’s more connected than ever. Most of us try to fit in, but fitting in and a sense of belonging are completely different. True belonging doesn’t require us to change who we. A genuine belonging is rooted in self-acceptance and authenticity, rather than conforming to the expectations of others.

Through wonderful storytelling, Braving the Wilderness shares insights about the people who embraced vulnerability and courage to stand alone when necessary. The book revolves around the concept of Wilderness which is described as a daunting place where true belonging and self-discovery occur. Wilderness is a place of solitude and uncertainty that teaches us to rely on inner strength.

Sometimes, we all need to embrace the Wilderness and solitude to find our true selves. We can’t ignore the role of community in encouraging individuals to become their authentic selves. Braving the Wilderness is one of the most impactful books that taught me to find myself and figure out my place in the world.

My favorite quotes from Braving the Wilderness by Brené Brown

“But what we know now is that when we deny our emotion, it owns us. When we own our emotion, we can rebuild and find our way through the pain.”
“I imagine one of the reasons people cling to their hates so stubbornly is because they sense, once hate is gone, they will be forced to deal with pain.”
“True belonging doesn’t require you to change who you are; it requires you to be who you are.”

3. The Happiness Project by Gretchen Rubin

Image: Goodreads

Most people spend their lives living up to the expectations of others. They realize much later that they forgot to work on the most important project, which is themselves. The main reason for unhappiness and misery is not following our hearts. 

We should learn to focus our energy on things that matter to us. What if we dedicate just one year to our happiness, doing things that make us happy? This thought excited me and I was tempted to read The Happiness Project by Gretchen Rubin.

This book will teach you how to dedicate a year to consciously work on your happiness, with monthly goals and resolutions. 

Chapter January is all about boosting your energy levels. You can do this by fixing your routine, getting enough sleep, exercising more, and reducing clutter. 

Chapter February is concentrated on love and relationships. 

March focuses on aiming higher and achieving greater career satisfaction. You should be ambitious while setting goals and pursuing your goals with passion can give a deeper sense of accomplishment. 

April emphasizes laughter and lightheartedness. It focuses on reducing stress and enjoying family time.

May is all about hobbies and leisure activities. It tells us to take the play seriously. 

June revolves around strengthening friendships and social connections. 

July is my favorite, explaining the relationship between money and happiness. It says money can actually buy happiness if you spend thoughtfully. 

August explores spirituality and mindfulness while September focuses on following a passion project. 

When you reach October, focus on living in the present moment. 

Chapter November is about positive thoughts, forgiveness, and gratitude. 

December is the last chapter about reviewing the progress you made and integrating all the lessons you learned throughout the year.

As I followed through the book and monthly tasks, I started enjoying my life better. This book has taught me how to take responsibility for my happiness and take actions that align with it. A small incremental change can significantly contribute to your overall happiness. This book also tells us how to find a work-life balance. 

You can also customize your yearly goals and resolutions after reading The Happiness Project. If you’re feeling unhappy and dissatisfied with your life, I highly recommend reading this book.

My favorite quotes from The Happiness Project by Gretchen Rubin

“The days are long, but the years are short.”
“Never start a sentence with the words ‘No offense.”
“Laughter is more than just a pleasurable activity…When people laugh together, they tend to talk and touch more and to make eye contact more frequently.”
“One of the best ways to make yourself happy is to make other people happy. One of the best ways to make other people happy is to be happy yourself.”

4. Maybe You Should Talk to Someone by Lori Gottlieb

Image: Goodreads

Sometimes, no matter how strong and self-dependent we try to be, talking to someone who cares can be the key to unlocking happiness. That someone can be a friend, family, mentor, or therapist. If you’re interested in understanding mental health and therapeutic processes, Maybe You Should Talk to Someone by Lori Gottlieb can be a life-changing book. Written by a therapist, the book shares insights about both personal and professional sides of mental health. In this memoir, Gottlieb even talks about her own healing journey through therapy.

It’s the real-life story of a therapist who ended up taking therapy for herself after an unexpected breakup. It shows the universal need for emotional support and understanding, even therapists need that. The memoir also revolves around four of her patients along with her own therapeutic journey. 

The book describes the complexities of the therapist-patient relationships such as boundaries, ethical decisions, and emotional connections developed during therapy. We get to know how therapists balance empathy and professionalism while dealing with their emotional responses. 

I liked the humor element in the book that conveys a much deeper issue. Maybe You Should Talk to Someone is close to my heart and makes me realize there’s so much in this life to be happy about. After reading about the therapist’s journey to therapy, I understood that seeking help is a sign of strength.

My favorite quotes from Maybe You Should Talk to Someone by Lori Gottlieb

“We can’t have change without loss, which is why so often people say they want change but nonetheless stay exactly the same.”
“Between stimulus and response there is a space. In that space is our power to choose our response. In our response lies our growth and our freedom.”
“Follow your envy — it shows you what you want.”

For more book reviews and recommendations, follow me on Goodreads.

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