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20 Books Everyone Should Read Before Age 40

20 Books Everyone Should Read Before Age 40

Books are wonderful things. Information, entertainment, wisdom and imagination all wrapped up in a nice little bundle of pages… or an electronic file as the case may be.

But there are so many. Millions actually, so the question becomes, “What are the must reads?”, especially in the first half of your life when you’re trying to do so much and seeking all that life has to offer so diligently. I’ll start by saying that there are so many books that could have made my list, but I suspect that you, like me, read many of those throughout your educational years. Still, it might be worth another read through of some of the classics.

My list of 20 must-read books:

(In no particular order, some classic, and some modern)

anne frank

    The Diary of a Young Girl by Anne Frank- I hope I don’t need to explain why this book is so important. You probably read this as a student, but read it again. It may be the ultimate book about the power of hope and strength in the midst of unspeakable atrocities, and it serves to remind us that there will always be evil in the world, but that we must not let it win.

    I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings

      I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings by Maya Angelou – Poverty. Racism. Rape. Coming of age amidst all that. It’s both heartbreaking and empowering, like only Maya can do.

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      Attitudes of Gratitude- How to Give and Receive Joy Everyday of Your Life

        Attitudes of Gratitude: How to Give and Receive Joy Everyday of Your Life by M.J. Ryan – Ryan shows us that when we let ourselves feel and express our appreciation, we feel happier, younger, and healthier.  Gratitude creates a powerful state of happiness where we notice what’s right instead of what’s wrong, which teaches us how to unlock the fullness of life.

        To Kill a Mockingbird

          To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee – Another book many of us read in school, but it’s worth another read through adult eyes. Be brave enough to do what you know is right—enough said.

          Emotional Intelligence 2.0

            Emotional Intelligence 2.0 by Travis Bradberry, Jean Greaves, Patrick Lencioni – It’s no secret that emotional intelligence (EQ) is critical to success, but knowing what emotional intelligence is and knowing how to use it to improve your life are two very different things. Emotional intelligence shows us how to use self-awareness, self-management, social awareness, and relationship management to achieve our fullest potential.

            The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People- Powerful Lessons in Personal Change

              The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People By Stephen R. Covey – It’s a classic for a reason: still one of the most valuable personal development books of all time. Covey prescribes a holistic, integrated, principle-centered approach to help us lead the best life possible.

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              The Power of Now

                The Power of Now by Eckhart Tolle – The message is simple: living in the now is the path to happiness (and enlightenment.) An excellent manual of how thoughts and emotions get in the way of our ability to live in genuine peace and happiness.

                Mans Search for Meaning

                  Man’s Search for Meaning by Viktor E. Frankl – Based on his own experience in Nazi death camps, Frankl argues that we cannot avoid suffering but we can choose how to cope with it, find meaning in it, and move forward with renewed purpose.

                  Now, Discover Your Strengths

                    Now, Discover Your Strengths by Marcus Buckingham, Donald O. Clifton – Unfortunately, most of us spend our lives trying to combat our weaknesses instead of developing our strengths, when the truth is that it is actually our strengths that lead us to personal and professional success.

                    Traveling Mercies- Some Thoughts on Faith

                      Traveling Mercies: Some Thoughts on Faith by Anne Lamott – Anne Lamott says the two best prayers she knows are: “Help me” and “Thank you.” Irreverent and witty, Lamott shows us how to own the reality of our own brokenness while coming closer to a real understanding of grace.

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                      making-marriage-simple-10-truths-for-changing-the-relationship-you-have-into-the-one-you-want

                        Making Marriage Simple: Ten Truths for Changing the Relationship You Have into the One You Want by Harville Hendrix, Helen LaKelly Hunt – A guide to building a strong partnership in today’s world. It gives practical tools needed to transform one’s relationship into a rewarding and joyous one.

                        Tuesdays with Morrie

                          Tuesdays with Morrie: An Old Man, a Young Man, and Life’s Greatest Lesson by Mitch Albom – Reminds us of the importance of having mentors, and that the lessons they teach us about living robustly and fully impact our lives in ways that we may not understand at the time.

                          The Artists Way

                            The Artist’s Way by Julia Cameron – An inspiring and invaluable guide on living a life of creativity and passion.

                            The Gifts of Imperfection

                              The Gifts of Imperfection: Let Go of Who You Think You’re Supposed to Be and Embrace Who You Are by Brené Brown – This book lays out ten guideposts for Wholehearted living. Brown teaches how to combat the barrage of messages from society telling us who, what, and how we should be, to discover that we are worthy just as we are.

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                              The Tipping Point- How Little Things Can Make a Big Difference

                                The Tipping Point: How Little Things Can Make a Big Difference by Malcolm Gladwell – The tipping point is that critical moment when an idea, trend, or social behavior crosses a threshold, then tips, and spreads like wildfire. Gladwell explores the tipping point phenomenon and how it’s changing the way people throughout the world think about the development and dissemination of ideas.

                                Imagine- How Creativity Works

                                  Imagine: How Creativity Works by Jonah Lehrer – Discusses the importance of thinking like a child, daydreaming, and adopting an outsider’s perspective. He talks about creative collaboration, criticism and how we can use creativity to better our world.

                                  The Last Lecture

                                    The Last Lecture by Randy Pausch – At one time or another, we all consider our deaths and ruminate on what matters mos; the wisdom would we impart to the world if we knew it was our last chance. This lecture given by Pausch, a computer science professor recently diagnosed with a terminal illness, expresses the importance of overcoming obstacles, of enabling the dreams of others, and of seizing every moment.

                                    The Notebook

                                      The Notebook by Nicholas Sparks – This is more than a simple story of love, lost and found—it’s one about the choices we make and the hardships we face. Whether you feel it’s a love story or a tragedy, it’s about a journey to happiness and ultimately deciding what or who is important to us in life.

                                      The Power of Full Engagement

                                        The Power of Full Engagement: Managing Energy, Not Time, Is the Key to High Performance and Personal Renewal by Jim Loehr, Tony Schwartz – Shows us how managing energy, not time, is the key to performance, health, happiness, and life balance. This fundamental insight has the power to revolutionize the way we live.

                                        Your chosen book on your spiritual path or philosophical leanings – A must, and probably should have been listed first. Whether it’s the Bible, Tao Te Ching, Bhagavad Gita, works by Plato, Aristotle, or one of the many spiritual books out there, whatever book helps you to understand your place in the larger picture of life, that gives you purpose and meaning, may be the most important book you ever read.

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                                        Last Updated on January 17, 2019

                                        8 Simple Mindfulness Exercises to Bring Peace and Happiness to Your Life

                                        8 Simple Mindfulness Exercises to Bring Peace and Happiness to Your Life

                                        In life, we all need to be conscientious of what we are doing. You don’t need to live a life of stress if you don’t want to. You can achieve peace and happiness in life by carefully building mindfulness exercises into your life’s routine.

                                        Exercising mindfulness isn’t rocket science and as importantly, you can do it. It will, however, take a few tries to get into the groove of things but once you get it, it is like riding a bike, you will never lose it.

                                        Trust me. It’s in your best interest to learn and put these mindfulness exercises into practice. In this article, I will share with you 8 mindfulness exercises that will help you to boost your energy, vitality and live a more peaceful and happier life.

                                        Why Is It Hard to Live A Peaceful And Happy Life?

                                        Our Habitat Has Become Too Technological

                                        The world has accepted the idea that technology is often the cure for all evil. We have accepted, as a society, that everything technological will make us live a better life without fully investigating the many side effects that modernity brings.

                                        There are a number of technological side effects that have a tremendous impact on your life that the media rarely tells you about.[1] Some of them include self-harm, economic inequality, having less sex, and even suicide. The global community is becoming less happy because of technology.

                                        How can anybody live a peaceful and happy life when they are depressed? Technology advancements, ladies and gents, is a major reason for why we are living a poor life because it has infiltrated our lives too much.

                                        According to my research, Americans spend an average of 8 hours a day looking at the computer screen — The average screen time spent on smartphones alone is about 20 hours per week. That’s a lot! No wonder why living a happy and peaceful life is so difficult these days.

                                        Too Many People Don’t Want to Unplug

                                        Americans check their phones an average of 80 times during vacation.[2] Some admit to checking their smartphones 300 times every single day. In countries like Brazil, India and China, the situation is no different.

                                        The reality is that people are constantly plugged into technological devices and this behavior is literally making people all over the globe fight an inner war with themselves, which consequently makes them very sad. As we know, war is the enemy of peace which won’t make anybody happy.

                                        Listen carefully:

                                        We have a global anxiety epidemic because people don’t want to unplug from their smartphones and most people aren’t doing anything to fix it. It is a sad state of affairs but very real. This obsession with technology is turning us into perishable robots who live terrible lives.

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                                        The era of anxiety is here to stay. There is little doubt about it. We can, however, fight back with the best remedy of all — We call it mindfulness!

                                        Thank God there is an antidote to this whole technological madness. Without further ado, let’s go straight to the mindful exercises.

                                        8 Mindfulness Exercises to Start Practicing

                                        There are tons of mindfulness exercises available for you to engage with out there.[3] In the paragraphs below, I will include the best ones I’ve personally tried or have seen my close friends and family members try.

                                        Are you ready for it? Let’s go!

                                        1. Pray Daily

                                        You should pray on a daily basis. Why is that you may ask — Well, because science has told us to do so.

                                        When people pray, they feel peaceful, almost eliminating anxiety. Worries become secondary, and often gives people energy and hope to cope with the difficulties of life.

                                        Prayer can make you more confident and focused. Prayer also helps you with self-control, helps to control pain, and can protect you against illnesses and disorders like cancer and high blood pressure. At least, this is what researchers from Harvard Medical School have said.[4]

                                        Pray. You won’t regret it.[5]

                                        2. Pay Attention to Your Inner Thoughts

                                        A lot of people allow themselves to be influenced by their negative thoughts. Be different and resist believing in them. It is a bad habit that can lead to unhappiness.

                                        By the way, if you do feel this way, chances are high that somebody other than you put these thoughts into your head.

                                        Here is my secret to combat this cancer — look at things objectively. I bet that if you look at things as they are, you will realize that most if not all of your negative thoughts are only inside of your head.

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                                        If you pay close attention, you will quickly realize that these voices aren’t worth your time. Believe me — Ignoring them and looking at things with objectivity is often the best course of action.

                                        This article can guide you to beat negative thoughts:

                                        How to Stop Automatic Negative Thoughts When You’re Overwhelmed

                                        3. Smile Often

                                        Smiling will slow down your heart. It will also relax your body because when you smile, your body releases endorphins which in itself has a number of positive benefits for you as a person.

                                        Smile often! You may want to smile early in the morning, during the day, and late in the evening. It is amazing what happens to you when you decide to smile instead of being grumpy.

                                        Surrender your problems to a nice smile. You will notice two things. First, most people just don’t which makes them live a miserable life. Second, if you decide to smile often, you will eventually smile unconsciously which is the ideal.

                                        The moment that you smile unconsciously, you then know that you are truly happy.

                                        4. Organize Your Working Desk

                                        A messy desk will make you less productive and can agitate and overstimulate you. You don’t want that.

                                        When you clear your desk, you engage in deep inner-thinking and your systematic decision making ends up becoming therapeutic.

                                        Most people realize that they are most creative when their creative space is clean and organized. The former often makes people more aware of what they are doing which lends to less stress and more productivity.

                                        Organizing your desk will also make you more energetic and focused because order often decreases chaos which is a condition that often slows down daily progress.

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                                        5. Celebrate Your Friend’s Victories

                                        I love this mindful exercise. One of the best ways to live a happy and peaceful life is to celebrate the victories of others. When you do that, you automatically make your friends in a better mood which makes you in a better mood, as well.

                                        Happiness is contagious! We might as well celebrate others as much as we can. If you find out that your peer has won an award, celebrate with him! If your friend is the recipient of a local charity award, celebrate with her!

                                        What is also awesome is that when you celebrate with others, they often celebrate with you in return. This, ladies and gentleman, will make you feel fantastic. You can’t go wrong with this one, period.

                                        6. Listen to Your Spouse/Partner

                                        God put someone in your life for a reason. You might as well listen to him or her.

                                        I listen to my wife everyday. In fact, I often ask the following question to her, “Amanda, what are your thoughts about…” or “What am I missing about…” It is shocking what I hear back from her. Without her having much context and perspective, by the art of observation in my own nonverbal behavior and the behavior of others, she accurately gives me incredible insights which helps me out with living my life to the fullest.

                                        I’m a firm believer that spouses are supposed to engage in interpersonal communication every day. I most definitely do and will continue doing it. You should do the same.

                                        7. Give Yourself a Break from Technology

                                        You can’t be in total equilibrium if your computerized devices control your life. You must get away from technology on a daily basis.[6]

                                        How do you do that? This is my formula:

                                        First, take this smartphone control test. It is only ten questions but this test will place you somewhere in the human robot cycle continuum.

                                        If your score is between 25-30, take a break from the computer (or smartphone, pad, laptop/desktop) every twenty minutes and stop being on a computerized device after 8:00pm.

                                        If you score between 30-35, still take a break every 20 minutes but stop being on these devices at 5:00pm.

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                                        If you score more than 35, you need to take action immediately.

                                        Limit computer use as much as possible throughout the day. Give yourself as many breaks from the computer as possible. Are you ready for the challenge?

                                        8. Go Exercise

                                        Go exercise at least three times a week. I don’t care if you need to workout early in the morning, late in the evening, on the weekends or during work days. Working out is absolutely imperative for you to live happy and peaceful life.

                                        The stresses of the modern world are too much for you to neglect this important mindfulness exercise. When you go to the gym, you burn calories, focus on activities one step at a time, your mind relaxes, anxiety decreases, you sweat and often think about topics unrelated to your work place among many other benefits.

                                        You must exercise at least three hours each week for optimum results. Why? Just take a look at all the benefits of regular exercising:

                                        12 Benefits of Regular Exercise You Should Know

                                        The Bottom Line

                                        It’s in your best interest to learn and put these mindfulness exercises into practice. Now that our habitat has become too technological and many people just don’t want to unplug, engaging in daily prayer, celebrate your friends’ victories, and listening to your spouse are among the best ways to be mindful about what you are doing and how you are living.

                                        It is possible to live a happy and peaceful life. It only depends on you.

                                        Go exercise! Take a break from technology and invest in you! Life is too short for distractions.

                                        More Resources About Mindfulness

                                        Featured photo credit: Lesly Juarez via unsplash.com

                                        Reference

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