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30 Books That Everyone Should Read At Least Once In Their Lives

30 Books That Everyone Should Read At Least Once In Their Lives

The greatest books are defined as classics for a reason.  Written by the greatest literary minds of their time, they have universal themes, characters, experiences, emotions, and perspectives that are still relevant today.  Some of them are the very inspiration from which entire modern genres of literary fiction have sprung up from.

If you love reading, here are 30 books that that we feel are defining milestones in our literary tradition.  Some are well known classics, others are modern giants.  All are well worth reading at least once in your life!

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    To Kill a Mockingbird

    by Harper Lee

    Published in 1960, this timeless classic explores human behaviour and the collective conscience of The Deep South in the early 20th century. Humour entwines the delicate strands of prejudice, hatred, hypocrisy, love and innocence to create one of the best novels ever written.

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    1984

      1984

      by George Orwell

      Although 1984 has passed us by, George Orwell’s dystopian, totalitarian world of control, fear and lies has never been more relevant. Delve into the life of Winston Smith as he struggles with his developing human nature in a world where individuality, freewill and love are forbidden.

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        Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone

        by J.K. Rowling

        I’m willing to bet you’ve heard of Harry Potter, but have you read the books? Join Harry Potter as he begins his journey into the world of magic, where he is the celebrated Boy Who Lived. Visit Hogwarts, meet your favourite characters and watch Harry grow into the one of the most famous literary characters in the world.

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          The Lord of the Rings

          by J.R.R. Tolkien

          Middle Earth is a wonderful, expansive fantasy world filled with turmoil, heroes, evil and innocence. Although our protagonist Frodo Baggins’ quest seems impossible to complete, this trilogy is a tale of triumph in the most impossible circumstances.

          Print | eBook | Audiobook


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            he Great Gatsby

            by F. Scott Fitzgerald

            Published in 1925, Fitzgerald’s The Great Gatsby explores the decadence of the Jazz Age, and one man’s introduction into a world where even those with the most indulgent lives cannot earn love.

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              Pride and Prejudice

              by Jane Austen

              One of the most famous novels of all time, Pride And Prejudice details the courtship of two opposed characters in a world where manners and courtesy are of the utmost importance.

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                The Diary Of A Young Girl

                by Anne Frank

                Unforgettable and deeply influential, Anne Frank’s diary is a raw account of a young girl’s life as she hides from the Nazis. Despite her circumstances, Anne believes that people are still good at heart and that the world is full of beauty: she will change your life.

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                  The Book Thief

                  by Markus Zusak

                  Set in Germany during 1939, The Book Thief follows Liesel as she rescues books from the tyranny of Nazi rule. Meanwhile, her family has hidden a Jewish fighter in their basement and death looks down on the family, narrating our tale. Experience bravery that is rarely found in the world, and friendship that is formed in the most unlikely of situations.

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                    The Hobbit

                    by J.R.R. Tolkien

                    Although the movies are inexplicably long, The Hobbit was originally written as a short children’s book. Meet your favourite characters for the first time as the unforgettable Bilbo Baggins traverses the harsh landscapes of Middle Earth to challenge a dragon.

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                       Little Women

                      by Louisa May Alcott

                      Join four sisters, each with their own prominent personality, as they come of age in charming 19th Century New England. Experience their struggles and revel in their flaws, as these girls become strong women.

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                         Fahrenheit 451

                        by Ray Bradbury

                        Books are forbidden, and it is our main character Guy Montag’s job to burn any books he comes across. Often compared to George Orwell’s 1984, Ray Bradbury’s dystopian world is an unsettling commentary on Western societies’ addiction and dependence on the media and conformity.

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                           Jane Eyre

                          by Charlotte Bronte

                          Arguably one of the most influential fictional heroines of all time, Jane Eyre is a strong, unbroken women despite her troubled childhood and repressed Victorian society.
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                            Animal Farm

                            by George Orwell

                            This famous 1945 satire, examines the realistic risks of revolution and the dynamics animals will inevitably give in to.

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                               Gone with the Wind

                              by Margaret Mitchell

                              Set in The South during The Civil War, chances are if you love the movie you’ll love the book. Although the main character and the world she lives in is loathsome, readers’ opinions are twisted as this novel dishes out a fated justice when both Scarlett and The South lose their wars.
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                                The Catcher in the Rye

                                by J.D. Salinger

                                Starring the original cynical adolescent, The Catcher In The Rye explores the challenges and isolation of adolescence. Decipher your own message as you follow sixteen-year-old Holden Caulfield, in this novel that has split audiences for decades.
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                                  Charlotte’s Web

                                  by E.B. White

                                  Team up with Charlotte, a loving and generous spider, and Fern, a farmers daughter as they try to save Wilbur the piglet from becoming breakfast. Charlotte’s Web is a compelling reminder to bask in the simplistic wonders of everyday life, and to be kind to all living creatures.
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                                    The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe

                                    by C.S. Lewis

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                                    Another renowned fantasy world, Narnia is the home of hundreds of magnificent creatures each with their own origins, morals and ideals. Let you imagination run wild as you enter the wardrobe and meet some of the most famous literary characters in history.
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                                      The Grapes of Wrath

                                      by John Steinbeck

                                      Published in 1939, this novel set during The Great Depression follows one Oklahoma family as they are forced to travel to California. Experience America in a tale where it’s people are divided into the haves and have-nots, the powerful and the powerless.
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                                         Lord of the Flies

                                        by William Golding

                                        This classic novel follows the lives of boys marooned on an island as they regress into savages; and their beautiful, enjoyable island existence collapses into a primitive and cruel nightmare.
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                                          The Kite Runner

                                          by Khaled Hosseini

                                          A story of true friendship, The Kite Runner follows Amir as he tries to find the only true friend he’s ever had – despite abandoning him due to ethnic and religious differences that were prominent in Kabul, Afghanistan.
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                                            Of Mice and Men

                                            by John Steinbeck

                                            Of Mice And Men is a complex story of a friendship between two migrant workers: George Milton and Lennie Small, in California. Watch their friendship develop as the pair work towards their modest dreams of owning their own land and pets.
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                                              A Tale of Two Cities

                                              by Charles Dickens

                                              Following eighteen years as a political prisoner, Dr Manette is released and returns to England with his daughter Lucie. There, two very different men fall in love with Lucie and become entwined in a tale of love and sacrifice.
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                                                Romeo and Juliet

                                                by William Shakespeare

                                                Perhaps the most famous love story ever written, Romeo and Juliet is an epic tragedy that explores the euphoria of desire and the tragedy of revenge.
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                                                  The Hitchhikers Guide to the Galaxy

                                                  by Douglas Adams

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                                                  Grab a towel and accompany human Arthur Dent on a fantastic adventure across the galaxy. Learn not to take the universe so seriously and forget any meaning you’ve applied to anything in your life, because we all know the real meaning of life is 42.
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                                                     Wuthering Heights

                                                    by Emily Bronte

                                                    Published in 1847, this passionate and harrowing story of love, rivalry and revenge follows Catherine Earnshaw and her father’s adopted foundling Heathcliff as they grow into very different adults.
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                                                      The Color Purple

                                                      by Alice Walker

                                                      Winner of multiple awards, The Color Purple is a devastating tale that tackles the lives of colored women in 1930s USA. Censored and challenged, the harsh reality displayed in The Color Purple will leave you shaken.
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                                                        Alice in Wonderland

                                                        by Lewis Carroll

                                                        Bizarre and curious, Alice In Wonderland explores the potential of imagination and the reality of fiction. If you’re a fan of escaping the real world, this is definitely the book for you.
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                                                          Frankenstein

                                                          by Mary Shelley

                                                          A combination of gothic thriller, cautionary tale and romance novel, Frankenstein is a story like no other. Written by Mary Shelley when she was just eighteen, Frankenstein prompts readers to ask themselves some truly shattering questions: what makes us human? What do we owe to one another as living creatures? How far can science push the boundaries of nature?
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                                                             The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn

                                                            by Mark Twain

                                                            Often titled The Great American Novel, The Adventures Of Huckleberry Finn is a deep and complex tale of friendship, adolescence and shifting societal norms.
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                                                               Slaughterhouse-Five

                                                              by Kurt Vonnegut

                                                              Although Vonnegut himself admits there are few characters or confrontations in this book, the impact of his novel is undeniable. We travel through life with our protagonist Billy Pilgrim as he experiences World War II from a rather unique perspective – that is, he’s been abducted from his home planet of Tralfamadore. Rich and deeply funny, this tale aims to discourage us from war and murder that the authorities force the public into.

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                                                              Featured photo credit: Girl Reading A Book | Picjumbo via picjumbo.com

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                                                              Last Updated on June 12, 2018

                                                              Can a Dysfunctional Family Become Functional?

                                                              Can a Dysfunctional Family Become Functional?

                                                              A dysfunctional family is more than disagreement or constant arguments. Anything from plain neglect, to abuse and even verbal and physical violence is the everyday experience of those who are part of a dysfunctional family.

                                                              You know how this looks:

                                                              • Parents constantly comparing children.
                                                              • Siblings in conflict because of tolerated bullying.
                                                              • Domestic violence.
                                                              • Adultery…
                                                              • And many others.

                                                              For all the members, this will mean emotional pain and even trauma; which, in case it doesn’t get resolved, will have a detrimental effect on the individual’s personality and development.

                                                              Needless to say, the younger members are the most vulnerable, but that doesn’t mean the parents are out of danger, as most commonly the parents play the roles of abuser-codependent, and in some cases, both parts inflicting pain on one another.

                                                              Most like to think these problems stem from deep-seated issues, and that therefore it’s pretty much impossible to deal with them.

                                                              This is only true for families not willing to do what it takes, for if only a single member is determined and knows how to do it, the whole family can do a lot of progress.

                                                              In this article, I’ll break down for you the basic steps of fixing a dysfunctional family. Although it may seem hopeless, it is possible to turn things around.

                                                              If you have ever felt in this position, or if you know somebody who is, this article is for you.

                                                              How to fix a dysfunctional family

                                                              In a few words the solution for a dysfunctional family lies in dropping the ego, focusing on the solution, switching blame for responsibility and doing the work as a unity, for the good of the whole family.

                                                              And this will accomplish things you once only saw as a dream.

                                                              Dropping the ego? Switching blame for responsibility? Doing the work? What does all this mean?

                                                              It’s simple. In a nutshell, it’s that which will allow you to turn a dysfunctional family into a functional one.

                                                              Let’s take a look at how exactly this can be done. And near the end we will also talk about what you can do in a dysfunctional family with cynical traits.

                                                              Dysfunctional families where not only problems are well-known, but also nobody seems to want a fix or openly decide to perpetuate the harmful behaviors. Such as the case of abuse and physical violence.

                                                              There is also a solution for these, it’s just not what you are expecting…

                                                              Dysfunctional… Or just average?

                                                              Most families are dysfunctional, though at varying degrees of dysfunctionality.

                                                              The milder cases, are just marked by “typical” comically-shrouded bullying or lack of interest in other members’ development or wellbeing.

                                                              You can know a family is dysfunctional if their interactions are anything different than cooperation, solidarity, care and support. But let’s get more specific…

                                                              A dysfunctional family is one in which members directly or indirectly suffer emotional and/or physical harm inflicted by other members of their family. Most commonly, perpetrated by the parents.

                                                              Even harmful actions as “passive” as neglect, which is inflicted by inaction rather than action, signifies a dysfunction within the family.

                                                              Dysfunctional families have conflicts such as:

                                                              • Unrealistic expectations
                                                              • Lack of interest and time spent together
                                                              • Sexism
                                                              • Utilitarianism
                                                              • Lack of empathy
                                                              • Unequal or unfair treatment
                                                              • Disrespect towards boundaries
                                                              • Control Issues
                                                              • Jealousy
                                                              • Verbal and physical abuse
                                                              • Violence and even sexual misconduct or abuse

                                                              You may think a dysfunctional family has very little or nothing to do with personal productivity, but you would be wrong in thinking this way…

                                                              If a person is not emotionally well, she will not be able to perform as desired, as the emotional harm that has been inflicted will hinder everyday performance in the way of inability to concentrate, lack of mental clarity and low levels of inspiration, motivation and discipline.

                                                              Having a functional family does exactly the opposite: It creates productive members with no emotional baggage.

                                                              How to turn it around

                                                              When you’re part of a dysfunctional family you know it. You can quickly identify in other members the behaviors and conflicts that create the dysfunction.

                                                              But just in case you’re having trouble telling functional from dysfunctional I will tell you the following:

                                                              One of the easiest ways you can recognize if you are in a dysfunctional family is to survey your won feelings.

                                                              We often overlook this, but have you stopped to ask yourself how you feel?

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                                                              As cheesy as it may sound it really sheds a lot of light on the subject.

                                                              What behaviors, actions and attitudes in your family you wish were better?

                                                              Do you think certain behaviors and actions from your family marked you in the past?

                                                              Sadly, we cannot go back to the past to correct it. But we can do a lot in the present…

                                                              Correction is possible

                                                              In order to fix a dysfunctional family, you must start by putting an end to the behaviors and actions that are affecting you.

                                                              Verbalize it.

                                                              All members of the dysfunctional family have one issue in common: They don’t put a stop to the harm.

                                                              Whenever you feel your boundaries being overstepped there is just one single word you have to remember: STOP.

                                                              This is the door to a better, more functional family, because after this, comes the fix.

                                                              But first you have to identify and make others know where exactly lies the problem.

                                                              So go ahead and fearlessly start with “Stop”, followed by your expression of dissatisfaction.

                                                              Putting it to work in real life

                                                              In real life it would be something like this:

                                                              “OK, stop! Every time you belittle me I feel you don’t care. I need attention and respect, and it is your responsibility as my family to provide them to me”

                                                              Or:

                                                              “Stop. When you compare me with my cousin it hurts, I feel like I don’t matter and that’s not ok. I ask you to stop doing it.

                                                              Or:

                                                              “Please stop. When you start yelling all respect is lost and it turns into a battle of who can do it louder. Don’t raise your voice and let’s work this out the way humans do”.

                                                              As you can see, here you start by putting a stop to the toxic behavior when it arises. And afterwards you verbalize why it’s wrong and what needs of you need to be fulfilled.

                                                              This is what you have to remember:

                                                              1-Stop.

                                                              2-Why it’s wrong?

                                                              3-What you need.

                                                              And this will also work well in case you need to do it for another family member.

                                                              It’s a family thing

                                                              A dysfunctional family cannot be fixed by one member alone.

                                                              Yes, a single member can initiate progress and be the leader of the change. But in order to completely become functional all members must contribute to the solution.

                                                              In other words, you will need cooperation…

                                                              So don’t be afraid of asking for it!

                                                              Approach your family member and ask to be listened.

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                                                              We sometimes feel our needs are “not that important” or we simply believe they won’t listen. But thinking like this would be like being defeated at an unfought battle.

                                                              You will be amazed by how much people listen when you voice your needs, especially if it implies showing yourself open, vulnerable and in need.

                                                              It’s not a free-for-all battle

                                                              In order to get your family to cooperate, first you must fix your individual relationships with every member of the family. Remember: Relationships are always between two people, and two people only.

                                                              No matter how complex, the quality of a multi-member relationship (like a family) will always depend on the quality of the individual relationships.

                                                              Once you have straightened the relationship with every member of the dysfunctional family you will be able to better communicate with other members and help in the betterment of their individual relationship.

                                                              And this is where we will talk about the fix itself. The one I mentioned in the introduction…

                                                              The method

                                                              1. Drop the ego

                                                              Wherever there is conflict there is ego.

                                                              You cannot fix a relationship where there is ego, because the ego will want to win. Always. Yours and the other person.

                                                              Ego craves control and satisfaction, and in many cases, to establish dominance.

                                                              What does this have to do with a dysfunctional family? Everything. Ego will interfere with every plan you have to fix it.

                                                              It will make people suborn and defensive. And it will also make them drop responsibility. This is why, the first step is to drop the ego.

                                                              After you make sure you are not going to allow your ego to interfere you must work to make the other person do the same. How? By speaking from the heart…

                                                              Tell the other person how important all this is to you.

                                                              Tell the other person that it’s not a matter of arguing, but just working things out together.

                                                              Point out how it is not possible for you to do it alone.

                                                              And ask for sincere attention without any desire of opposition, because what you are doing is by no means in the hopes of harming the other person, but just to better the relationship and stop the damage being dealt to you.

                                                              You will have to point out the mistakes you need corrected, that’s for sure. And that leads me to the next point…

                                                              2. Not blame, but responsibility

                                                              When talking about others’ mistakes we often use an accusatory tone. And that’s natural, it’s what things should be like if ego was not present.

                                                              But since we are all creatures of ego, this immediately brings the shields up. And then unsheathes the swords…

                                                              When we blame others they automatically enter a defensive state, and this only leads to a failed negotiation.

                                                              What you need to do is to shift from blame to responsibility. And even that will have to be done carefully!

                                                              Instead of telling them off or demanding change or complaining, calmly point what the problem with their behavior is.

                                                              As much as this feels contradictory, also make them feel understood. You know how difficult it is to accept a mistake, so just make them feel it’s no big fuzz… which does not mean it’s ok, but it takes tension off.

                                                              You will do something like this:

                                                              “Hello dad. Can I talk with you for a minute? I really need to tell you something.

                                                              I have been feeling pretty sad lately and I know this is something you do care about.

                                                              You see, whenever I talk about my accomplishments you mention something else that makes my achievement pale in comparison.

                                                              I know you don’t do this intentionally and I know you might have not realized this until now, but I want to let you know this really brings me down.

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                                                              It would mean a lot to me if you could stop doing it, and it would help better our relationship, because this has already forced me to distance myself from you. And I don’t want that, I want a good, healthy relationship with you”

                                                              What happened here?

                                                              We started off with making it something important, something that needs both time and attention. Then we openly show ourselves vulnerable, just as we are.

                                                              We also mention why he should listen, and shove our feelings there again, because they are important.

                                                              We describe the issue with no attachment and with no hostile intention. It’s just a description.

                                                              And then we take the blame off. Just before we assign responsibility without actually saying it.

                                                              You are not blaming him directly, but you are pointing out the inevitable fact that his actions are causing a dysfunctionality. He is now responsible for changing.

                                                              This is what “switching blame for responsibility” means. What comes next? Doing the work!

                                                              3. Doing the work

                                                              What would any of this mean if, in the end, nothing changes? Exactly, nothing!

                                                              This is why you must follow up with every change that needs to be done.

                                                              Do so in a manner that is not hostile. Bring it up in a casual manner, and emphasizing how you both reached an agreement and how that is important to the family.

                                                              If the person doesn’t follow up don’t hesitate to bring it up again, and tell them you feel disappointed that your honest try at it was not listened.

                                                              It may even be a subject in itself, and therefore the need for another conversation.

                                                              “When you go back to old habits it shows that you didn’t really care about what I said. But back in real life you just reinforce how much contempt you show towards me and my feelings.

                                                              I talk with you because I care. Because although it would be easier for me to just distance myself from you I rather do my part in nurturing this relationship.

                                                              But there is just so much I can do, if you refuse to do your part I can do nothing else.”

                                                              You need very clear and positive communication in order to make this work.

                                                              Love is all you need

                                                              You must remember that in order for a dysfunctional family to become functional, all the work needs to stem from love.

                                                              That is the single one requirement for all this to work: Love.

                                                              And what happens if it simply is not there?

                                                              What happens if, nobody is willing to do what it takes?

                                                              What happens if a member of the family refuses to change and is happy with the harm he or she is dealing?

                                                              There is only one thing you can do:

                                                              To break away.

                                                              Let’s be honest, people, especially adults, are very difficult to change.

                                                              There is a Jewish proverb that I love, which sums it up like this:

                                                              “We spend the rest of our lives trying to unlearn what we learned before we were 7”

                                                              If you find it very hard to change the very traits that make your family dysfunctional or if it’s simply impossible, you still have a card up your sleeve…

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                                                              Although nobody likes to beak away from family members, we must remember we have a responsibility with ourselves as individuals, before any relationship with anyone.

                                                              You have the responsibility of making yourself happy and free. Because you matter as an individual, regardless of any relationships you have, be it family, friendship or romantic.

                                                              Putting distance

                                                              So in case you are dealing with a family member who is simply unwilling to change take both physical and emotional distance.

                                                              What do I mean?

                                                              Learn, first, to take their damage in a detached manner.

                                                              Don’t let it hurt you further. Instead take a deep breath and distance yourself emotionally.

                                                              Don’t be attached to feelings such as “Why doesn’t she love me?” or “What did I do to deserve this?” or “If he wasn’t like that my life would be perfect”.

                                                              Simply refuse to keep participating in the emotional downward spiral and accept, even if it’s painful” that there is nothing you can do. Accept that even without that relationship you are whole, you are worthy of love and respect.

                                                              They are their responsibility and you are yours. So decide what is best for you.

                                                              Realize it only comes down to two possibilities:

                                                              I keep the relationship and therefore accept the abuse. Or…

                                                              I choose my peace of mind.

                                                              And don’t let your mind fool you. We often think that since we all are imperfect, we must take the good and the bad behaviors of people. And we are especially forgiving towards our family…

                                                              Well, guess what? We are also responsible adults who are aware and must own to their acts. Never excuse abuse or violence or transgression towards you or anybody else.

                                                              Choose your happiness and if possible, also distance yourself physically, as it will increase your peace of mind tenfold.

                                                              How to prevent it

                                                              There are two key concepts you must bear in mind in order to prevent the dysfunctionality of a family:

                                                              • To be completely aware of one’s own mistakes and not allow them to impact others and…
                                                              • To make sure our SO’s are also on the same channel before creating a family (i.e. having children)

                                                              Dysfunctional families are the product of irresponsible paternity, for the decades-long unresolved emotional conflict ends up surfacing in the family inevitably, and it will for sure harm those who least deserve it: Innocent children.

                                                              You may notice we went from talking about family, to talking about individual relationships, to talking about you. We went from “them” to “us” to “me”.

                                                              Why? Because in the end you have the power to fix a dysfunctional family. To correct the mistakes you have in yours and to prevent dysfunctionalities if you don’t have a family but plan to create one.

                                                              Priorities and clear thought

                                                              You may be part of a dysfunctional family, but that does not mean you are powerless or that you have to suffer the consequences.

                                                              You learned today how it’s all a matter of priorities and thinking clearly.

                                                              You learned that, if love exists, everything is possible. You learned that even when there is no love and no fix for your dysfunctional family, there are still things you can do. It’s a matter of choosing your peace, because you deserve it.

                                                              Everything will be better if you apply this knowledge. If you talk to that problematic family member. If you help them see the harm they are doing. If you make sure they do change and treat you the way you need to be treated…

                                                              If you choose yourself over that toxic family member. If you refuse to justify the harm that others can do to yourself. If you realize the most important relationship you have is with yourself.

                                                              And lastly, that you also have to be aware of your actions and be open to criticism. Because we might be unknowingly harming others. And that would be us creating a dysfunctionality. Don’t allow it to happen.

                                                              Dysfunctional families are not impossible to fix. It just takes love, cooperation and responsibility.

                                                              But if you tried and those elements are not present, just choose yourself instead.

                                                              Featured photo credit: Photo by Juliane Liebermann on Unsplash via unsplash.com

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