With a world that’s constantly moving faster and demanding more of our time and attention, it’s all the more important to approach life in a way that best suits you. Hence the surge of lifestyle philosophies and life-managing techniques that fill displays in bookshops and occupy the recommendations section of Amazon.
As part of Stress Awareness Month, we’ve pulled together a selection of popular and relevant books offering ways to look at the world and, more importantly, your place in it to give you a taster of the life-changes you could make to reduce stress and live a happier life.
Minimalism: Live a Meaningful Life
The concept of minimalism has been around forever, but with Minimalism: Live a Meaningful Life and its authors’ website and podcast it’s become a hugely popular trend. Flying in the face of the consumerist culture, the minimalist ideal promotes reducing clutter in your life – both physical and psychological – so that you can focus on the things that really matter to you. The main message is iterated regularly throughout the Minimalism book, website and podcast: “Does it add value?” If not, bin it. It can seem a little preachy and (ironically) indulgent at times, but beneath the overzealous narrative the underlying philosophy is one that is worth investigating if you feel overwhelmed by some or all aspects of life. And, in true minimalist style, it’s only 140 pages, so it won’t take you ages to read.
From its full title you could mistakenly think The Antidote: Happiness for People who can’t stand Positive Thinking is an anti-wellbeing book. In fact, it’s a well-considered and insightful look at how the “cult of optimism” and the many self-help books and programmes designed around it are actually more benevolent than beneficial. Instead, The Antidote promotes a thought process dating back to the ancient Greeks and Romans: Stoicism. Not to be confused with the modern stiff-upper-lipped use of the word “stoic”, Stoicism encourages you to let go of trying to control everything and find peace with what already is, rather than fixating on what you want things to be and spiralling into misery if things don’t turn out how you’d hoped. It’s a great attitude to adopt, which not only affirms your life view but also encourages you to stop beating yourself up when it comes to trying to achieve your aspirations.
The Bullet Journal Method
The original book about bullet journaling, written by the method’s creator Ryder Carroll, The Bullet Journal Method carefully details the practice of bullet journaling. Even if you only take to some of the ideas in this book, you’re sure to find something that will help you streamline your planning, thinking and working.
Conjurer and mental magic man Derren Brown has written a few books, but Happy is his first one on life philosophy. Largely revolving around the teachings and thoughts of the ancient Greeks and Romans, this book applies the Stoic thinking of Marcus Aurelius and Seneca to the modern world to interesting effect. It’s a longer and more detailed exploration of this ancient philosophical system than The Antidote, and also includes some entertaining anecdotes from the author.
Side note: Interestingly, Derren Brown studied law in Bristol and used his mind and memory tricks to help remember cases and lengthy bits of information for his law exams. If you’d like to give it a try for yourself, check out his first book; Tricks of the Mind.
The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying
No doubt you’ve seen, or at least heard of, Marie Kondo’s Netflix series, Tidying Up. Well The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying is the book that launched her to fame. Much like The Bullet Journal Method above, this book’s not specifically about your mental wellbeing, but it’s got some great advice on how to sort out your stuff so you feel less overwhelmed by the things around you. A tidy home leads to a tidy mind, after all.
These are just a few of our top picks for good wellbeing reads, but the list of books out there covering different areas or perspectives is staggering. Here’s a bunch of the others that come near the top of our picks:
- Reasons to Stay Alive, Matt Haig
- Humans, Matt Haig
- Notes on a Nervous Planet, Matt Haig
- Mind over Mood, Dennis Greenberger
- Overcoming Stress, Gillian Todd and Leonora Brosan
- The Little Book of Mindfulness, Patrizia Collard
- Chicken Soup for the Soul, Canfield and Hansen
- The Power of Now, Eckhart Tolle
- The Tao of Pooh and the Te of Piglet, Benjamin Hoff
- Destressifying, Davidji
- Daring Greatly, Brene Brown
- Find your happy, Shannon Kaiser
- F**k it: be at peace with life, just as it is, John Parkin
- The life changing magic of not giving a f**k, Sarah Knight
- Do Breathe, Michael Townsend Williams
You can find out more about how The University of Law works to support your wellbeing as well as your ambitions while you study by checking out our support hub.