MONDAY BYTES — August 22, 2016
Has this ever happened to you? The right book suddenly “appears” — you find yourself reading something perfect that offers the perspective you most need. Whether fiction or non-fiction, the book seems to directly address your needs, providing the solace, example, or challenge that helps you move forward.
Books can be incredibly therapeutic for making change and improving lives. That’s the idea behind Bibliotherapy — “a therapeutic approach that uses literature to support good mental health,” according to GoodTherapy.org.
How it works: you visit a shrink (or fill out a form remotely) detailing your reading habits, lifestyle, state of mind, and current dilemma, and this professional then prescribes a particular set of works chosen especially for you. The plan is for you to be able to identify with characters or the narrators, and then experience catharses and gain new perspectives to help you cope better with your reality.
I confess that here — with absolutely no authority or credentials to practice bibliotherapy — I’m going to recommend two books for you.
Not that I’m assuming anything about what you might need or want. But I’m guessing you might be curious about two books packed with insights about human nature, motivation, and how to deal with challenges. I’m crazy about both of these: not just for the practical help they provide, but for the realistic hope they offer.
Prescription #1: The book I’d recommend is one my friend John Steinmetz has talked about for years and I had bought not once but twice but hadn’t read.
Well, I finally read it last week — it must have been the right time! The book is Steven Pressfield’s fabulous “The War of Art.” It focuses on creative work: what gets in the way (resistance in all its guises), and how to overcome obstacles.
I find the book hugely inspiring. It’s a quick and powerful read with a slow after burn — gave me surprising new perspectives that helped me connect other ideas.
Note: the book refers to a higher force, but you do not in any way need to be religious or even spiritual in your orientation in order to get a lot from the book. It’s for anyone who’s ever wanted to commit to a project.
Spoiler alert: here’s is the fantastic last passage of the book (pg. 165). This isn’t giving away a punchline, but I hope it may inspire you to read (or re-read) the book:
“If you were meant to cure cancer, write a symphony or crack cold fusion and you don’t do it, you not only hurt yourself, even destroy yourself. You hurt your children. You hurt me. You hurt the planet.
You shame the angels who watch over you and you spite the Almighty, who created you and only you with your unique gifts, for the sole purpose of nudging the human race one millimeter farther along its path back to God.
Creative work is not a selfish act or bid for attention on the part of the actor. It’s a gift to the world and every being in it. Don’t cheat us of your contribution. Give us what you’ve got.”
Prescription #2: I’d suggest the next book to anyone who deals with procrastination, jealousy, fear, or negative thoughts. Which is all of us.
This book might be a harder sell, especially for those squeamish about therapy, but you may be interested that the two authors, “Hollywood shrinks,” treat some of the most successful actors, agents, and writers in the business, and that they specialize in helping people make real change. The 5 tools they cover in the book are in-the-moment interventions to get you to take the actions you’re avoiding and to stop undermining yourself.
Read The Tools: Transform Your Problems into Courage, Confidence, and Creativity by Phil Stutz and Barry Michels.
The tools themselves can seem a little new age-y: that is until you start using them regularly and start noticing the changes in how you feel and how you behave.
For this week: What books have helped you move ahead in your life? I would LOVE to hear your bibliotherapy recommendations — please write with the titles and why you recommend them and send to angela@BeyondTalentConsulting.com
PS: Want to know what a bibliotherapy session is like? Hear a mini therapy session in this quick NPR piece.
PPS: Hear from The Tools authors in this short interview.
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