Books to help you help yourself


It’s a new year and as always, everyone is looking for a little self-improvement. Sometimes, the best way to get help is to help yourself. Maybe that explains the growth of the multibillion-dollar self-help industry and the volume of books hitting shelves now through spring that offer advice on improving everything from your relationships to your finances. However you may be ailing or failing, help is on the way.

Help yourself to happiness

“The Purpose Principles: How to Draw More Meaning Into Your Life,” by Jake Ducey (Tarcher/Penguin, $14.95). Millennial motivational speaker Ducey starts by quoting a good friend’s late father who suggests the path to happiness is paved with passion. The TEDx speaker uses celebrity case studies and gives exercises that help you decide what you want, face failure, set goals and stay persistent and consistent while creating the life you desire.

“Vital Signs: The Nature and Nurture of Passion,” by Gregg Levoy (Tarcher/Penguin, $28.95). If passion is the key to happiness, this book is 450-plus pages of pure joy. Levoy explores the struggle between our attempts to live passionately and maintain a sense of security. Chapter by chapter, you learn to explore your passion and sustain it over time, since losing it will leave you in a cycle of lackluster living.

“The Next Happy,” by Tracey Cleantis (Hazelden Publishing, $14.95, available in March). Dreams do not always come true and well-meaning phrases that suggest otherwise may hurt you, Cleantis says. This book is all about living after your dreams die. Cleantis tells you how to let go, how to live with the emotions involved in giving up and how to set goals that will move you forward to a new version of happiness.

“Mindfulness Is Better Than Chocolate,” by David Michie (The Experiment, $14.95). We are happiest when our minds are not wandering, Michie says. And meditation is the training ground for mindfulness. Michie tells us the benefits of paying attention — mental clarity, more self-esteem, less stress — and the ways we can learn to free our minds by staying focused.

Fine-tune your finances

“Picture Your Prosperity: Smart Money Moves to Turn Your Vision Into Reality,” by Ellen Rogin & Lisa Kueng (Portfolio/Penguin, $27.95). Financial planning can be a drag, so we avoid it. But money pros Rogin and Kueng want you to view money as a tool to achieving your unique vision of prosperity — whether that is the ability to buy whatever you want or the need to feel secure. In seven steps, you learn to create and support your vision by making a plan, boosting your financial happiness and becoming more financially resilient.

“A Bunch of Pretty Things I Did Not Buy,” by Sarah Lazarovic (Penguin, $18). Blogger and illustrator Lazarovic declared war on shopping. Twice. Now she shares her wisdom on how to survive this age of rampant consumerism with an illustrated take on how to become a conscious shopper.

A helping of healthy

“The Weight Escape: How to Stop Dieting and Start Living,” by Joseph Ciarrochi, Ann Bailey and Russ Harris (Shambhala, $15.95). Instead of meal plans, the authors offer up a diet for the mind that can also change your body. Use the principles of Acceptance and Commitment Therapy (ACT) to set goals, lose destructive habits, manage cravings and master the art of self-acceptance.

“Passionate Nutrition,” by Jennifer Adler with Jess Thomson (Sasquatch Books, $23.95). Adler is a nutritionist who was malnourished the first two decades of her life. “Passionate Nutrition” shows you how to eat foods that support your digestive system and in turn, lead to good overall health. Recipes are included (roast chicken with a full stick of butter, anyone?). Calorie counting is not required.

“20 Pounds Younger,” by Michele Promaulayko (Rodale, $24.99). Mindful eating, self-love, and learning how hormones can mess up your eating are among the lessons you will learn to help you drop 20 pounds and feel younger. With input from an all-star panel of experts, you get a checklist that makes nutritious eating easier, strategies to exercise self-control and relieve stress, and tips on exercise and beauty.

“The Rockstar Remedy,” by Dr. Gabrielle Francis with Stacy Baker Masand (Harper Wave, $25.99). Since rockstars tend to live extreme lifestyles, we can probably learn from their mistakes (and successes). Francis, doctor to the rockstars, offers a 90/10 plan — do whatever you want 10 percent of the time. Devote the rest of your time to learning to use food as fuel, exercising and living mindfully to achieve a total rockstar transformation.

Revive your relationships

“Women Are Scary,” by Melanie Dale (Zondervan, $15.99, available in March). Mean girls grow up and become mean moms. Dale teaches you how to manage mom monsters, while finding, keeping, rekindling and sometimes ending relationships with other women who also happen to be parents.

“Deeper Dating,” by Ken Page (Shambhala, $14.95). Stop playing games and start getting real about finding love. Begin by uncovering your core gifts (what hurts or fills your heart the most?) and use them as your guide to understanding attraction and improving dates. Micro meditation exercises help you actively combat dating challenges while inspiring stories keep you engaged.

“The Boomer Guide to Finding True Love Online,” by Ken Solin (21st Century Lion Books, $12.99). Bye-bye, May-December romance. This is all about boomers connecting with each other — online and in real life. Solin helps boomers navigate the murky digital dating scene with tips on everything from posting the right photo to getting a second date. If you’re over the age of 50 and single, this could be your dating bible.

“The Sweet Spot: How to Find Your Groove at Home and Work,” by Christine Carter (Ballantine Books, $26). Exit the treadmill of modern life with strategies to help you create order, lose mental and physical clutter and learn to accept a certain amount of discomfort on the road to a less-stressful life.


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