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25+ Incredible Novels You Must Read At Least Once In Your Life

25+ Incredible Novels You Must Read At Least Once In Your Life

A great book should leave you with many experiences, and slightly exhausted at the end. You live several lives while reading. —William Styron

Books open doors in our minds, allowing us to live an entire lifetime and travel the world without even leaving the comfort of our chairs. When we read a book, we step into someone else’s shoes, see the world through someone else’s eyes, and visit places we might never otherwise go, whether a tiny village in India or the green fields of Narnia. Books teach us about love, heartbreak, friendship, war, social injustice, and the resilience of the human spirit. Here are 25 books you should read at least once in your life.

    The Kite Runner (2009)

    by Khaled Hosseini

    Told against the backdrop of the changing political landscape of Afghanistan from the 1970s to the period following 9/11, The Kite Runner is the story of the unlikely and complicated friendship between Amir, the son of a wealthy merchant, and Hassan, the son of his father’s servant until cultural and class differences and the turmoil of war tear them asunder. Hosseini brings his homeland to life for us in a way that post 9/11 media coverage never could, showing us a world of ordinary people who live, die, eat, pray, dream, and love. It’s a story about the long shadows that family secrets cast across decades, the enduring love of friendship, and the transformative power of forgiveness.

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      Number the Stars

      by Lois Lowry

      This Newbery award-winning novel tells the story of Annemarie Yohansen, a Danish girl growing up in World War II Copenhagen with her best friend, Ellen, who happens to be Jewish. When Annemarie learns about the horrors that the Nazis are inflicting on the Jewish people, she and her family stop at nothing to protect Ellen and her parents, as well as countless other Jews. Lowry’s novel is a powerful reminder that cultural and religious differences are no divide between true friends and that love shines all the brighter against the darkness of hatred.

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        Pride and Prejudice

        by Jane Austen

        The opening line of this classic novel, “It is a truth universally acknowledged that a single man in possession of a good fortune must be in want of a wife” is one of the most recognizable first lines of fiction. Yet Jane Austen’s most famous work is more than a comedy of manners about the marriage market and the maneuvers of navigating polite society in 19th-century England. Pride and Prejudice remains one of the most enduring works of English Literature not because we find such rewarding pleasure in watching sparks fly between Elizabeth Bennet and Mr. Darcy (though that’s certainly reason enough). Readers embrace the novel because Austen candidly captures the human character with all of its beauties and its imperfections. Pride and Prejudice is a novel about overcoming differences of cast and class, about learning to laugh at life even when it’s grossly unfair, and about recognizing that loving someone often means accepting them in spite of rather than because of who they are.

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          The Outsiders

          by S.E. Hinton

          Hinton penned this novel when she was only 16 because she was tired of reading fluffy romances. She wanted a story about the harsh realities of being a teenager in mid-20th century America, and since none existed, she wrote one herself. Told from the perspective of orphan Ponyboy Kurtis, this multiple award-winning young adult novel tells the story of a group of rough, teenage boys on the streets of an Oklahoma town, struggling to survive and stick together amidst violence, peer pressure, and broken homes. The novel reminds us that growing up is never easy and that pain, loss, friendship, and love are universal experiences that both create and dissolve socio-economic boundaries.

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            Little Women

            by Louisa May Alcott

            A richly written novel with a cast of memorable characters, Little Women invites us into the warm, comfortable home of a 19th-century American family. Everyone can find a character trait that resonates with them, whether Jo’s temper, Meg’s vanity, Amy’s mischievousness, or Beth’s shyness. The novel is a coming-of-age story that follows four sisters (the March girls) from girlhood to womanhood in Civil War America. Together they learn about the harsh realities of poverty, illness, and death, and how to dream, love, and laugh through it all. This is a heartwarming, timeless classic about the importance of family and the simple, home-spun comfort of never being alone.

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              A Single Man

              by Christopher Isherwood

              While this is far from a light read, it’s one of the first novels I suggest whenever someone asks me for a book recommendation because it really packs a punch. Right to the solar plexus. The novel looks at a single day in the life of George Falconer, a middle-aged English professor grieving the loss of his partner, Jim. As George struggles against the grip of his depression and wonders what the point of life is any more, he gradually learns, through a dinner with his best friend and a heart-to-heart with a student, the gift of being alive with all its trials and its triumphs. Through the snapshot of a single day in a man’s life, Isherwood reminds us that every moment counts. His clear, direct prose will grab hold of you, snap your head around, and challenge you to stare your mortality in the face.

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                Charlotte’s Web

                by E.B. White

                OK, let’s lighten things up a bit. Who doesn’t love a novel about talking animals? A Laura Ingalls Wilder Metal winner, E.B. White’s children’s classic about Wilber the pig and his host of barnyard friends from Charlotte the spider to Templeton the rat flings wide the door to imagination and makes us wonder what a world where animals could talk would be like. On a more serious note, it challenges us to ask ourselves how we’d treat animals if they could talk. If they could tell us their joys and their fears, would mankind treat them more humanely? White’s novel is a lesson for children and a reminder for adults of the beauty of nature, the cycle of life, and the importance of remembering that every creature has its place on this earth.

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                  The Reader

                  by Bernhard Schlink

                  Set in late-20th Century Germany, this novel boldly confronts long-standing German national guilt over the Nazi war crimes of the Holocaust through the strange, intergenerational relationship between 15 year-old Michael Berg and 36 year-old Hannah Schmitt, an illiterate tram operator and former Auschwitz prison guard. As Michael teaches Hannah to read books, Hannah teaches Michael to read the human character, and he comes to learn about the nuances between good and evil and of living with the consequences of one’s choices. The Reader is a story about personal as well as national guilt, about the consequences of keeping secrets, and about the power of redemption.

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                    Jane Eyre

                    by Charlotte Bronte

                    Bronte’s classic novel tells the tale of a young girl’s struggle to make something of herself in the world, from the tyranny she endures as a poor orphan under her Aunt’s roof and the deplorable conditions she lives in at Lowood school to the dark secrets she encounters in her role as Governess at Thornfield Hall, the home of the enigmatic and alluring Mr. Rochester. Strong-willed and resilient, Jane longs for the independence that Victorian England denied women, and her story stands as a timeless example of a woman’s determination to choose her own path in life in the face of hardship and ridicule.

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                      The End of the Affair

                      by Graham Green

                      This is another one of those books filled with nuggets of truth that you might cut your teeth on, but that we all need to learn to swallow. The End of the Affair tells the story of the brief but life-altering adulterous relationship between Maurice Bendrix and Sarah Miles. Set in part against the turmoil of World War II, the personal battles of love, hate, guilt, and the search for truth and redemption are all the more poignant. The story of Maurice and Sarah reminds us that the things we do for love can trigger an inexorable pull of fate that carries our lives on a passionate and sometimes perilous journey and that while love doesn’t always last forever, the lessons we learn from it do.

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                        To Kill a Mockingbird

                        by Harper Lee

                        This one’s gotten a lot of attention with the recent announcement that Lee will be releasing a prequel this summer, so even if you’ve read it before, now might be a good time to revisit it. Told through the point of view of the 6 year-old Scout Finch, the story recounts a crisis that rocks her Alabama hometown when the African American Thom Robinson is accused of raping a young white woman. Scout’s father, Atticus Finch, is the lawyer appointed to represent Robinson. Alternately humorous and brutally honest, the novel looks critically at social issues of class, race, and sex politics and the sometimes ironic injustice of the American legal system.

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                          Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone

                          by J.K. Rowling

                          K, who am I kidding? Read all of them, but you have to begin at the beginning, right? The Wizarding world of Harry Potter has captivated children and adults alike. The story of the Boy Who Lived, a downtrodden, emotionally neglected orphan who discovers he’s a wizard, ticks all the big boxes on must-read lists. It deals with the enduring love of friendship, the pain of loss, the triumph of good over evil, and the reality that sometimes the fiercest battles we fight are within ourselves.

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                            The Secret Garden

                            by Frances Hodgson Burnett

                            A beloved children’s favorite about little Mary Lennox, who goes to live in the English manor house of her reclusive uncle after her parents die of Cholera, The Secret Garden is a timeless classic about the beauty of nature, the healing power of love, and a belief in magic. As the Yorkshire sunshine softens Mary’s hard little heart and she befriends the animal charmer Dicken, her invalid cousin Colin, and a host of gentle creatures, you’ll laugh with her and cry with her as she learns how to love, how to trust, and how to reach outside herself to nurture the world around her.

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                              The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe

                              by C.S. Lewis

                              When Peter, Susan, Edmund, and Lucy slip into the magical land of Narnia, befriending talking animals and battling the White Witch, they discover the bonds of family and the value of bravery. This is more than a story about an entire world tucked away in an old piece of furniture. It’s a novel about the boundlessness of the human imagination. Set against the backdrop of World War II England, the land of Narnia represents the timeless hope in a better, brighter future.

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                                Anne of Green Gables

                                by L.M. Montgomery

                                When 11 year-old orphan Anne Shirley goes to live with the middle-aged brother and sister Matthew and Marilla Cuthbert, she discovers that there’s been some mistake and that they had actually wanted to adopt a boy. While this debacle initially drops Anne into a world where she fears being rejected and unloved, you’ll ultimately be rewarded as Anne’s spirited imagination and kind heart win over everyone whose life she touches. This is a heartwarming story of love and friendship and a poignant reminder that sometimes life not working out the way we want it to is actually the best thing that can happen.

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                                  The Girl Who Fell From The Sky

                                  by Heidi Duro

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                                  This novel tells the story of Rachel, the daughter of a Danish mother and black father. When Rachel, her mother, and her younger brother fall nine stories from an apartment building, Rachel is the only survivor, and she’s taken in by her black grandmother in a predominantly white Portland neighborhood. With her brown skin and blue eyes (a white girl’s eyes in a Black girl’s face) Rachel faces the challenge of learning what it means to be biracial in a black-and-white world. Duro offers a masterful novel that interrogates the cultural construction of race in America and challenges us to confront our own prejudices.

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                                    Bridget Jones’s Diary

                                    by Helen Fielding

                                    A prevailing pop culture icon since her debut in 1996, Bridget Jones has been a symbol of everyday feminism for women all over the world from the UK to Japan. Her self-deprecating, candid cataloguing of dating and dieting debacles, her struggle with body image, and her desire for personal and financial independence resonates with readers because we’ve all been there at some point in our lives. Humorous and heartwarming, Fielding’s novel offers comical but critical commentary on what it means to be a woman in today’s world and reminds women (and men) that feminism is less about bra-burning and defying marriage statistics and more about standing up for yourself and loving yourself just as you are.

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                                      Uncle Tom’s Cabin

                                      by Harriet Beecher Stowe

                                      A well-known abolitionist novel, Uncle Tom’s Cabin is a political and puritanical indictment of American slavery. Stowe weaves together the stories of several slaves from the fierce Eliza who will stop at nothing to rescue her son from being sold to the meek, modest Uncle Tom who bears his burden calmly and quietly, serving his masters with the faithful honesty of a man for whom freedom is as much a state of mind as a physical condition. This is a novel about the endurance of the human spirit and the moral obligation to fight for right.

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                                        The Bell Jar

                                        by Sylvia Plath

                                        The Bell Jar is a hauntingly realistic novel based on Plath’s own life and tells the story of Esther Greenwood, a talented young woman who gains a summer internship at a large New York magazine and discovers that instead of enjoying the glamorous New York lifestyle, she finds it frightening and disorienting. Lifted from Plath’s own struggle with depression, the Bell Jar is an authentic look into the human psyche and sheds light on the realities of mental illness.

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                                          Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland

                                          by Lewis Carroll

                                          A classic work of Victorian Children’s Fiction, this is a whimsical tale of magic and nonsense in which Alice finds herself in an imaginary world after chasing a white rabbit she sees while sitting quietly on the riverbank. Opening this novel invites you to fall down the proverbial rabbit hole and into a world of talking animals and magic mushrooms that cause Alice to grow or shrink depending on which side she eats. This novel has delighted children and adults alike with its blurring of the boundaries between real and make-believe and the all-too real sensation of trying to find our way around a world we can’t make sense of.

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                                            The Picture of Dorian Gray

                                            by Oscar Wilde

                                            In this chilling novel, the titular character, Dorian Gray, is the subject of a portrait by painter Basil Hallward, who is enamored of Dorian’s beauty. Knowing that his youth will fade eventually, Dorian wishes to sell his soul for beauty and youth, and his wish is granted. As Dorian grows more beautiful, his painting mysteriously takes on an increasingly monstrous appearance. Hauntingly descriptive and delicately crafted, Wilde’s novel challenges us to look within ourselves and acknowledge the darker side of human nature and the struggle between good and evil that each of us faces.

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                                              Murder on the Orient Express

                                              by Agatha Christie

                                              In one of Christie’s most compelling mysteries, the luxurious Orient Express is stopped in a snowdrift in the dead of night, and the next morning, a grumpy, dislikable American passenger is found stabbed twelve times with his door locked. Only the other passengers can have been the killer with the possibility of it being an outside job highly unlikely because of the snowstorm. As Detective Hercule Poirot investigates, a tangled tale is woven around the murdered man as each passenger is revealed to be connected to him. With her usual flare for intrigue, Agatha Christie gives us a mystery that blurs the boundaries between legal and moral justice, challenging us to decide when, and if, it’s ever justifiable to take the law into our own hands.

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                                                The Little Prince

                                                by Antoine De Saint-Exupéry

                                                The most-translated book in the French Language, The Little Prince is the story of a little boy who falls to Earth from an Asteroid after visiting several other asteroids to try to understand mankind. In his travels he meets a series of strange and delightful characters, including a king with no subjects, a drunkard who drinks to forget about the shame of being a drunkard, and an untamed fox. The Little Prince is an allegory about the foolishness of man and man’s tendency toward self-destruction through violence, as well as a heartwarming tale of the transformative power of friendship and trust.

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                                                  The Fault in Our Stars

                                                  by John Green

                                                  A Compelling, touching story, The Fault in Our Stars recounts the experiences of Hazel, a teenager with cancer, and the experiences of the other teens in her cancer support group. As together they share their fears and their joys, readers come to appreciate the fragility of life through these young voices whose lives are at once burning with intensity and flickering on the point of dying. Green captures the struggles of terminal illness with tenderness and amazing authenticity, reminding us that love, friendship, and faith transcend all, even death itself.

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                                                    The Wonderful Wizard of Oz

                                                    by L. Frank Baum

                                                    A classic novel about adventure and magic, The Wonderful Wizard of Oz tells the story of what happens to little Dorothy Gale when she and her dog, Toto, are caught up in a cyclone and whisked away from their Kansas farm to find themselves in the land of Oz, where they meet a host of colorful characters including the Scarecrow, the Tin Woodsman, and the Cowardly Lion. Together they journey to the Emerald city to meet the celebrated Wizard in a quest for knowledge, love, courage, and a search for home. Immortalized in its famous adaptation starring Judy Garland, the novel is a heartwarming story about friendship and bravery, about appreciating what you have, and never forgetting that home is where your heart is.

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                                                      1984

                                                      by George Orwell

                                                      One of the best-known dystopian novels, 1984 is Orwell’s nightmarish masterpiece. Its world is uniquely unsettling: the state controls every aspect of your existence, even limiting the language such that most human expression is totally excised from everyday life. Obedience is the height of safety, and any trace of dissatisfaction is unacceptable. The eyes of the government are everywhere, abetted by technology and your own children.

                                                      This is the book that gave us the neologism “Orwellian,” an adjective used to describe official surveillance and deception, like the activities conducted by 1984’s government. While it isn’t exactly a heartwarming book, it will definitely get you to think and make you more attuned to the big issues today: free speech and free press, the dangers of the surveillance state, and the importance of history.

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                                                        The Catcher in the Rye

                                                        by J.D. Salinger

                                                        Holden Caulfield is a captivating character, because his outlook is just so jaded – he’s merely sixteen. This book was first published in 1951, and its appeal back then – and now – is just how different it was from the typical novel of the early fifties. Salinger liberally uses profanity, portrays sexuality, and employs an unabashedly casual tone. Themes of angst and alienation thread throughout this classic text: it will appeal to teenagers and adults alike.

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                                                        Featured photo credit: Woman Reading Literature via pixabay.com

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                                                        How to Control Your Thoughts and Become the Master of Your Mind

                                                        How to Control Your Thoughts and Become the Master of Your Mind

                                                        Your mind is the most powerful tool you have for the creation of good in your life, but if not used correctly, can also be the most destructive force in your life.

                                                        Your mind, more specifically, your thoughts, affect your perception and therefore, your interpretation of reality.

                                                        I have heard that the average person thinks around 70,000 thoughts a day. That’s a lot, especially if they are unproductive, self-abusive and just a general waste of energy.

                                                        You can let your thoughts run amok, but why would you? It is your mind, your thoughts; isn’t it time to take your power back? Isn’t it time to take control?

                                                        Choose to be the person who is actively, consciously thinking your thoughts. Become the master of your mind.

                                                        When you change your thoughts, you will change your feelings as well, and you will also eliminate the triggers that set off those feelings. Both of these outcomes provide you with a greater level of peace in your mind.

                                                        I currently have few thoughts that are not of my own choosing or a response from my reprogramming. I am the master of my mind, so now my mind is quite peaceful. Yours can be too!

                                                        Who Is Thinking My Thoughts?

                                                        Before you can become the master of your mind, you must recognize that you are currently at the mercy of several unwanted “squatters” living in your mind, and they are in charge of your thoughts. If you want to be the boss of them, you must know who they are and what their motivation is, and then you can take charge and evict them.

                                                        Here are four of the “squatters” in your head that create the most unhealthy and unproductive thoughts:

                                                        1. The Inner Critic

                                                        This is your constant abuser. He is often a conglomeration of:

                                                        • Other people’s words; many times your parents.
                                                        • Thoughts you have created based on your own or other peoples expectations.
                                                        • Comparing yourself to other people, including those in the media.
                                                        • The things you told yourself as a result of painful experiences such as betrayal and rejection. Your interpretation creates your self-doubt and self-blame, which are most likely undeserved in cases of rejection and betrayal.

                                                        He is motivated by pain, low self-esteem, lack of self-acceptance and lack of self-love.

                                                        Why else would he abuse you? And since “he” is actually you– why else would you abuse yourself? Why would you let anyone treat you this badly?

                                                        2. The Worrier

                                                        This person lives in the future; in the world of “what ifs.”

                                                        He is motivated by fear which is often irrational and with no basis for it.

                                                        Occasionally, he is motivated by fear that what happened in the past will happen again.

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                                                        3. The Reactor or Trouble-Maker

                                                        He is the one that triggers anger, frustration and pain. These triggers stem from unhealed wounds of the past. Any experience that is even closely related to a past wound will set him off.

                                                        He can be set off by words or feelings. He can even be set off by sounds and smells.

                                                        He has no real motivation; he has poor impulse control and is run by past programming that no longer serves you, if it ever did.

                                                        4. The Sleep Depriver

                                                        This can be a combination of any number of different squatters including the inner planner, the rehasher, and the ruminator, along with the inner critic and the worrier.

                                                        His motivation can be:

                                                        • As a reaction to silence, which he fights against
                                                        • Taking care of the business you neglected during the day
                                                        • Self-doubt, low self-esteem, insecurity and generalized anxiety
                                                        • As listed above for the inner critic and worrier

                                                        How can you control these squatters?

                                                        How to Master Your Mind

                                                        You are the thinker and the observer of your thoughts. You must pay attention to your thoughts so you can identify “who” is running the show; this will determine which technique you will want to use.

                                                        Begin each day with the intention of paying attention to your thoughts and catching yourself when you are thinking undesirable thoughts.

                                                        There are two ways to control your thoughts:

                                                        • Technique A – Interrupt and replace them
                                                        • Technique B – Eliminate them altogether

                                                        This second option is what is known as peace of mind!

                                                        The technique of interrupting and replacing is a means of reprogramming your subconscious mind. Eventually, the replacement thoughts will become the “go to” thoughts in the applicable situations.

                                                        Use Technique A with the Inner Critic and Worrier and Technique B with the Reactor and Sleep Depriver.

                                                        For the Inner Critic

                                                        When you catch yourself thinking something negative about yourself (calling yourself names, disrespecting yourself, or berating yourself), interrupt it.

                                                        You can yell (in your mind), “Stop! No!” or, “Enough! I’m in control now.” Then, whatever your negative thought was about yourself, replace it with an opposite or counter thought or an affirmation that begins with “I am.”

                                                        For example, if your thought is, “I’m such a loser,” you can replace it with, “I am a Divine Creation of the Universal Spirit. I am a perfect spiritual being learning to master the human experience. I am a being of energy, light, and matter. I am magnificent, brilliant, and beautiful. I love and approve of myself just as I am.”

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                                                        You can also have a dialogue with yourself with the intention of discrediting the ‘voice’ that created the thought, if you know whose voice it is:

                                                        “Just because so-and-so said I was a loser doesn’t make it true. It was his or her opinion, not a statement of fact. Or maybe they were joking and I took it seriously because I’m insecure.”

                                                        If you recognize that you have recurring self-critical thoughts, you can write out or pre-plan your counter thoughts or affirmation so you can be ready. This is the first squatter you should evict, forcefully, if necessary:

                                                        • He riles up the Worrier.
                                                        • The names you call yourself become triggers when called those names by others, so he also maintains the presence of the Reactor.
                                                        • He is often present when you try to fall asleep so he perpetuates the Sleep Depriver.
                                                        • He is a bully and is verbally and emotionally abusive.
                                                        • He is the destroyer of self-esteem. He convinces you that you’re not worthy. He’s a liar! In the interest of your self-worth, get him out!

                                                        Eliminate your worst critic and you will also diminish the presence of the other three squatters.

                                                        Replace him with your new best friend who supports, encourages, and enhances your life. This is a presence you want in your mind.

                                                        For the Worrier

                                                        Prolonged anxiety is mentally, emotionally and physically unhealthy. It can have long-term health implications.

                                                        Fear initiates the fight or flight response, creates worry in the mind and creates anxiety in the body.

                                                        You should be able to recognize a “worry thought” immediately by how you feel. The physiological signs that the fight or flight response of fear has kicked in are:

                                                        • Increased heart rate, blood pressure, or surge of adrenaline
                                                        • Shallow breathing or breathlessness
                                                        • Muscles tense

                                                        Use the above stated method to interrupt any thought of worry and then replace it. But this time you will replace your thoughts of worry with thoughts of gratitude for the outcome you wish for.

                                                        If you believe in a higher power, this is the time to engage with it. Here is an example:

                                                        Instead of worrying about my loved ones traveling in bad weather, I say the following (I call it a prayer):

                                                        “Thank you great spirit for watching over _______. Thank you for watching over his/her car and keeping it safe, road-worthy, and free of maintenance issues without warning. Thank you for surrounding him/her with only safe, conscientious, and alert drivers. And thank you for keeping him/her safe, conscientious, and alert.”

                                                        Smile when you think about it or say it aloud, and phrase it in the present tense; both of these will help you feel it and possibly even start to believe it.

                                                        If you can visualize what you are praying for, the visualization will enhance the feeling so you will increase the impact in your vibrational field.

                                                        Now take a calming breath, slowly in through your nose, and slowly out through the mouth. Take as many as you like!

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                                                        Replacing fearful thoughts with gratitude will decrease reactionary behavior, taking the steam out of the Reactor.

                                                        For example:

                                                        If your child gets lost in the mall, the typical parental reaction that follows the fearful thoughts when finding them is to yell at them.

                                                        “I told you never to leave my sight.” This reaction just adds to the child’s fear level from being lost in the first place. Plus, it also teaches them that mom and/or dad will get mad when he or she makes a mistake, which may make them lie to you or not tell you things in the future.

                                                        Change those fearful thoughts when they happen:

                                                        “Thank You (your choice of Higher Power) for watching over my child and keeping him safe. Thank you for helping me find him soon.”

                                                        Then, when you see your child after this thought process, your only reaction will be gratitude, and that seems like a better alternative for all people involved.

                                                        For the Trouble-Maker, Reactor or Over-Reactor

                                                        Permanently eliminating this squatter will take a bit more attention and reflection after the fact to identify and heal the causes of the triggers; but until then, you can prevent the Reactor from getting out of control by initiating conscious breathing as soon as you recognize his presence.

                                                        The Reactor’s thoughts or feelings activate the fight or flight response just like with the Worrier. The physiological signs of his presence will be the same. With a little attention, you should be able to tell the difference between anxiety, anger, frustration, or pain:

                                                        • Increased heart rate and blood pressure; surge of adrenaline
                                                        • Shallow breathing or breathlessness
                                                        • Muscles tension

                                                        I’m sure you’ve heard the suggestion to count to ten when you get angry—well, you can make those ten seconds much more productive if you are breathing consciously during that time.

                                                        Conscious breathing is as simple as it sounds; just be conscious of your breathing. Pay attention to the air going in and coming out.

                                                        Breathe in through your nose:

                                                        • Feel the air entering your nostrils.
                                                        • Feel your lungs filling and expanding.
                                                        • Focus on your belly rising.

                                                        Breathe out through your nose:

                                                        • Feel your lungs emptying.
                                                        • Focus on your belly falling.
                                                        • Feel the air exiting your nostrils.

                                                        Do this for as long as you like. Leave the situation if you want. This gives the adrenaline time to normalize.

                                                        Now you can address the situation with a calmer, more rational perspective and avoid damaging behavior.

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                                                        One of the troubles this squatter causes is that it adds to the sleep depriver’s issues. By evicting, or at least controlling the Reactor, you will decrease reactionary behavior, which will decrease the need for the rehashing and ruminating that may keep you from falling asleep.

                                                        Master your mind and stop the Reactor from bringing stress to you and your relationships!

                                                        For the Sleep Depriver

                                                        (He’s made up of the Inner Planner, the Rehasher and the Ruminator, along with the Inner Critic and the Worrier.)

                                                        I was plagued with a very common problem: not being able to turn off my mind at bedtime. This inability prevented me from falling asleep and thus, getting a restful and restorative night’s sleep.

                                                        Here’s how I mastered my mind and evicted the Sleep Depriver and all his cronies.

                                                        1. I started by focusing on my breathing—paying attention to the rise and fall of my belly—but that didn’t keep the thoughts out for long. (Actually, I now start with checking my at-rest mouth position to keep me from clenching.)
                                                        2. Then I came up with replacement strategy that eliminated uncontrolled thinking—imagining the word in while breathing in and thinking the word out when breathing out. I would (and do) elongate the word to match the length of my breath.

                                                        When I catch myself thinking, I shift back to in, out. With this technique, I am still thinking, sort of, but the wheels are no longer spinning out of control. I am in control of my mind and I choose quiet.

                                                        From the first time I tried this method I started to yawn after only a few cycles and am usually asleep within ten minutes.

                                                        For really difficult nights, I add an increase of attention by holding my eyes in a looking-up position (Closed, of course!). Sometimes I try to look toward my third eye but that really hurts my eyes.

                                                        If you have trouble falling asleep because you can’t shut off your mind, I strongly recommend you try this technique. I still use it every night. You can start sleeping better tonight!

                                                        You can also use this technique any time you want to:

                                                        • Fall back to sleep if you wake up too soon.
                                                        • Shut down your thinking.
                                                        • Calm your feelings.
                                                        • Simply focus on the present moment. 

                                                        Becoming the master of your mind

                                                        Your mind is a tool, and like any other tool, it can be used for constructive purposes or for destructive purposes.

                                                        You can allow your mind to be occupied by unwanted, undesirable and destructive tenants, or you can choose desirable tenants like peace, gratitude, compassion, love, and joy.

                                                        Your mind can become your best friend, your biggest supporter, and someone you can count on to be there and encourage you. The choice is yours!

                                                        Featured photo credit: Pexels via pexels.com

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