Adding A Little Joy To My Reading List

I don’t know what to say. I promised myself I’d tackle books that had been sitting on my shelves for a while, and yet my newest books keep ending up on my reading list. I promise, the next book will be one that’s been sitting in my to-be-read pile for years. For real this time. And I know I won’t break that promise because I’ve already started reading something that I’ve had in my collection for over ten years. But for now, another newer acquisition. (Oops.)

When Mark and I got married in the fall, one of our wedding gifts was The Book of Joy by His Holiness the Dalai Lama, Archbishop Desmond Tutu, and Douglas Abrams. I wanted to add this one to my 2021 reading list for three reasons: it was a wedding gift, it deals with mindfulness, and it fit into the Indigo Reaching Challenge category “A book to assist in self-discovery & self-care.” And, honestly, after 2020 it just felt right to read something called The Book of Joy. It’s certainly something we could all use a little more of right now.

This non-fiction book is certainly filled with joy as Abrams chronicles almost a week’s worth of conversations and interviews with the Dalai Lama and Desmond Tutu. Both spiritual leaders offer their insight on life, suffering, human emotions, and (of course) joy. Some of the chapters and conversations within them are repetitive at times, but this book is a very fast and easy read. Most importantly, even though the topic of conversation is joy, the Dalai Lama and Desmond Tutu bring joy to the conversation just by being themselves.

I had heard of both of these world renowned spiritual leaders before reading, but other than knowing their names and their spirituality, I did not know a whole lot about them as people. As they wove their own personal experiences into the conversation, I quickly fell in love with them. Both men have lived incredibly difficult lives, and yet they are still filled with joy and share it with those around them. I was also surprised to see just how close they are as friends, to the point where they became silly and playful with one another during the interviews. The silliness was not something I was expecting. It was literally a joy to read. Their friendship alone made me smile and this was the perfect book to read on a day when I was feeling down.

Although this book is more about self-discovery than about self care when it comes to exploring human emotions, I would argue that there is an element of self-care involved when it comes to the practice of mindfulness. Around this time last year, I started practicing mindfulness and meditation through the Headspace app to help with my anxiety and depression. Reading this book reminded me of a lot of the mindfulness practices I’ve been learning about over the past year. And as an added bonus, there is a chapter filled with mindfulness meditations and exercises at the end of the book. Many of these meditations are even similar to the ones I have been doing through Headspace. Personally, it felt pretty cool that I was already doing things that were recommended by His Holiness the Dalai Lama and Archbishop Desmond Tutu.

Bonus: Recovering from Emotionally Immature Parents by Lindsay C. Gibson. This was another newer purchase, but I had to read it the moment I got it. In fact, it was a birthday present to myself (along with a book on sharks, of course). I’ve mentioned before that I started reading self-help books during the pandemic to help with my anxiety and depression, but I’ve also been reading them to help me learn to process the traumas I have from growing up in a toxic environment. Specifically, I have a narcissistic parent that I ended up going no-contact with about seven years ago. My goal in reading some of these self-help books was to eventually re-establish contact with said parent. I know we’ll never have a great relationship, but I’m hoping for at least a good one that has appropriate boundaries. I bought Gibson’s book for myself as I had already read one of her books months prior and found it to be very helpful: Adult Children of Emotionally Immature Parents. Both books have some similar chapters in terms of educating readers on how to tell if a parent is emotionally immature, and how that can affect family life and family dynamics. However, both books have sufficient differences in terms of how to process your traumas and take the steps towards recovery. Recovering in particular was very informative for me as it included tips and tricks for how to avoid falling back into old patterns when you’re around your emotionally immature parent. This is exactly the kind of information I need for re-establishing contact with my narcissistic parent. So if you too have an emotionally immature parent in your life, I highly recommend checking out Gibson’s books.

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