I’ve decided to share some tools with you that have helped me to become a better and happier person. Many of them refer directly to relationships, love and dating, others have indirectly affected these areas of my life by improving my general well-being.
I’m a voracious self-improver so be prepared for many different tools some of which are to be used once, others repetitively! I’m sure not all of them will be applicable to you because we all have different journeys but I hope some will.
Before I start I’d also like to share a general reflection on progress, which is that it’s not linear. We like to think about it in this way: I do A therefore B will happen. But this isn’t true because many connections we make is nothing more than wishful thinking.
To give you an example, I will get in shape (= get a revenge body) and my boyfriend will get back with me isn’t a cause and effect relationship.
In fact, thinking that doing good things will always bring a (desired) result means you’ve stopped your progress as an adolescent. You can learn more from Mark Manson’s article “How to Grow Up” but in short, adults are supposed to do certain things just because they’re the right things to do, with no promise of a positive outcome.
Please don’t expect that any of these resources will change your life overnight because you can’t change your life in 30 days. It’ll help you make better choices, though and introduce small changes that’ll make your life, slowly but surely, better.
Here we go:
1. Why Men Love Bitches By Sherry Argov
Applicable to you if: your priority is pleasing men (in all ways, not only sexual) and not yourself. As a result, you’re often treated with no respect by your love interests.
#englishrosiee has written a lovely review for you already (link up there) but there’s a reason why I’ve given her this book. It made me realise at some point of my life, after many “bad boys” I’d dated, that all I was focusing on was for people/men to like me, instead of trying to find out who I am and what I like. It took me a while after reading this book to get some proper self-respect, understand myself better and stop being a walkover but this book was a mental breakthrough.
Applicable to you if: not only is your priority pleasing men but also “saving them”. You choose not even men who booty call you but those who booty call you to first have sex with you, then tell you about their mommy issues and then borrow some money from you.
You can read my review of this book, if you please but in short it’s a book for anyone who struggles with dating not so much bad boys but often problematic ones. If you feel like your mission is to save potheads or support your boyfriends and in a relationship you’re looking more for a project than a partner, it’s a great book to help you get over it.
3. Cardio and exercise
Applicable to you if: you don’t already exercise 5 times a week.
For general well-being and better mood I recommend cardio and exercise. Try to do it regularly and try to do it most days. Everyone’s busy but also everyone can squeeze some exercise in their routine. Moms do it, executives do it, moms who are executives do it, you can do it too.
The additional perk is that you look better and looking better is a confidence booster for dating. Already married? Your husband will appreciate it, when you stop complaining about your thunder thighs (true story!).
If you’re really short on time, exercise smarter not longer. Get a personal trainer if it’s within your budget or spend less money than on a gym membership by getting Kayla’s app.
Applicable to you if: you want to improve your life and you don’t get all red when you hear the word f*ck.
I have a love and hate relationship with Mark. The hate is because of his books (“The Subtle Art of Not Giving a F*ck” and “Everything is F*cked”) being too close to the content of his blog for some unkind thoughts not to come to my head.
The love is for the blog. There’s some great advice about happiness, self-knowledge, relationships and more there. He’s a clever guy who tells it as it is and writes in an easy pleasant way.
Applicable to you if: you can absorb knowledge well just from listening. I know it’s not everyone’s cup of tea.
You’ll find everything on this podcast from The Erotic Playbook of a Top Earning Sex Worker through business advice and bio hacks to general life tips from wise, successful people. Listen to the ones you find applicable, skip the rest. I particularly recommend the episodes with Esther Perel (the author of “Mating in Captivity” and “The State of Affairs“), Susan Caine (the author of “Quiet. The Power of Introverts in the World That Can’t Stop Talking”) and Brene Brown (the author of many books but more importantly of one of my favourite TED talks).
6. Struggle for Intimacy by Janet Woititz
Applicable to you if: you’re a child of an alcoholic/alcoholics or come from a different kind of a dysfunctional family. Dysfunctional means lacking love and warmth, not necessarily physically abusive and/or extremely poor.
This book was published a year before I was born and yet I only discovered it in my 20s. It discusses problems children from abusive families have with intimacy that make them recreate the same patterns they know from childhood in their adult lives. Such children very often go for intensity and emotional rollercoasters rather than wholesome relations. Needless to say, you can’t have genuine love and a healthy relationship if you don’t allow intimacy to be a part of it.
If you’re wondering whether you have a problem, check out my post about Intensity Not Always Being a Good Thing.
Applicable to you if: you’re curious about stuff.
TED’s a great place to hear (and see) smart people talking about important topics. Happiness, love and relationships are big issues for us all, so you’ll find a lot of great advice and aha! moments there. You can also keep yourself updated on social issues, climate change and new findings.
Just be sure to have nothing planned for a few hours, when you’re going to visit the website for the first time. Knowledge is addictive!
Applicable to you if: you’re not a zen master yet.
I discovered meditation many years ago but I only started to meditate daily a year ago or so. Two months ago I went to my first silent meditation retreat and it had a profound effect on how I see reality.
In short, meditation helps you focus on here and now, connect with people and listen to your inner guide more than to your external (often faulty) programming. It’s not easy in the beginning to just sit still and focus on your breath so a programme with guided meditations is a good idea. A month long one is perfect to make you to see the benefits but if you’re short on cash or stingy, you can do 10 days for free with Headspace or 15-day free meditation challenge with Vanessa Loder to have a lick of it.
9. Staying sober and nicotine free
Applicable to you if: if you’re a smoker/heavy drinker
First I went nicotine free and I noticed my anxiety, including social anxiety started to get less acute. Years after that I stopped drinking because I wasn’t controlling it that well (you can read more about that in my review of The Unexpected Joy of Being Sober).
Do you think cigarettes make you calm? They don’t, they make you more anxious long-term but short-term it may seem like you’re getting a relief. With booze I suggest easing down on it to most people because, in excess it’s just not that great for your productivity, relationships and waistline. If you feel you have a drinking problem, quit.
10. “Mistakes Were Made (But Not by Me)” by Carol Tavris and Elliot Aronson
Applicable to you if: you’re human.
This is a book everyone should read. It discusses why people don’t like to admit that they’e wrong, what it leads to and how to catch ourselves out doing it. The examples include big-scale ones such as the Iraq War and Bush’s stand on it even towards the end as well as small-scale ones such as what it means for marriages. A really eye-opening read!
11. “The Power of Now” by Eckhart Tolle
Applicable to you if: you spend a considerable amount of time in your head worrying about the past an/or the future.
If, like me, you need to understand things conceptually before you practise them, this book is a great introduction to why it matters to be in the moment (and by extension why you should practise meditation).
It’s an aha moment kind of book, particularly for those who struggle between feeling depressed about the past and worried about the future. It’s not the way to contentment, believe me or not.
12. “Your Erroneous Zones” by Wayne Dyer
Applicable to you if: you’re not perfect. So yes, everyone should read it.
This book is so charged with valuable content that it’s difficult to summarise it. In short, it gives you tools to be true to yourself and have better relationship with yourself and others. A lot of his tips are counter-intuitive so it takes a while to take them in but his perspective is mind-blowing.
13. Everything by Osho
Applicable to you if: you want to improve your life but also you’re open-minded and see past appearances.
Osho may have lost his way at some point and he did and said some terrifying things. Still, there’s a lot of wisdom in his writings on love, relationships, happiness, creativity and religion.
I think that’s it, Dear Rinsers. There certainly have been some other tools along the road but the shifts they brought may have not been powerful enough to remember them. If anything comes to my mind later on, I’ll just add it here.
Just a disclaimer before I go: I’m neither ecstatically happy all the time nor Mother Theresa. What I am is slowly and surely better and happier than I used to be. That’s all we can hope for 🙂
What are the most powerful books you’ve read in your life? What are the tools you use every day to stay happy(ish) and get better? Let me know in the comments!