Ikigai and gratitude, two words you’ll be hearing a lot this year. It is all about living mindfully and finding one’s purpose, meanwhile appreciating the little things in life. It’s always nice to have some recommendations for new books to read. At least, that’s what I think. Browsing Amazon or a bookshop in town sometimes makes me feel a bit overwhelmed, not knowing what to choose. Since it is the start of the year and self-care and making my life more peaceful overall are themes that currently interest me, I thought I’d share some titles of books I found at The Book Depository that may inspire you as well.
Ikigai : The Japanese secret to a long and happy life
Hector Garcia. Hardback, 208 pages. Price 11,27 € order
Ever heard of the word Ikigai? We all have an ikigai apparently. Even if we don’t know it yet. Ikigai translates as ‘a reason to live’ or ‘a reason to jump out of bed in the morning’. It’s the place where your needs, desires, ambitions, and satisfaction meet: a point of perfect balance, and perfect fulfillment.
On the Japanese island of Okinawa, people live longer than anywhere else in the world. There, finding your ikigai is considered the key to longevity – and to happiness. The Okinawans know that all lives are valuable; for them, your ikigai is the lens that will help bring your value into focus.
If you want to uncover your own ikigai, then this book will help you do this and equip you to change your life. It encourages you to leave stress and urgency behind, and throw yourself into finding your purpose, nurturing your friendships, and pursuing your passions.
Kindness : The Little Thing That Matters Most
author: Jaime Thurston. Hardback 224 pages. price 8,41 € order
An act of kindness, we all have it in us but in our busy lives we often forget how much of a difference you can make by doing it. And how much effort is it? Spend a minute doing something for someone, give a compliment, give up your seat on the bus. This book aims to motivate and inspire you to do more of these little acts.
It uses the voices of those who have been helped by the author’s charity – 52 Lives – to ground the ideas in real life action. The book is themed around 52 simple actions you can do to spread kindness. Interspersed throughout are nuggets of science explaining the positive effect kindness has on the brain and on the heart. This book is a call to action for people to live a more connected, fulfilling life. With inspirational quotes and personal stories this book will give you all the motivation you need to start spreading a little kindness – it’s free after all! Learn to live a life of kindness by following Jaime’s infectious positivity in this charming gift book.
The Art Of Gratitude
Meredith Gaston. Hardback, 200 pages. 18,50 € order
Being grateful for the little things in life can create a huge shift in your happiness and general well-being, when you practice it daily. The art of gratitude is the art of embracing and drawing joy from small moments and pleasures, and being open to inspiration and abundance, joy, peace and love. It’s an art that illustrator Meredith Gaston is well practiced in and uses in her daily life. In this book Meredith’s explores the different aspects of gratitude, adding tips, exercises and inspirational quotes, all beautifully illustrated with water colours.
Eleanor Oliphant is Completely Fine
Gail Honeyman. Paperback, 400 pages. 10,39 € order
This book intrigues me and I can’t wait to read it! We all get into comfortable habits, think we’re fine and happy with what we have – and often we are. But what if change really is a good thing? What if stepping out of that comfort zone is not as scary if we think?
Eleanor Oliphant has learned how to survive – but not how to live. She leads a simple life. Wears the same clothes to work every day, eats the same meal deal for lunch every day and buys the same two bottles of vodka to drink every weekend. She is happy. Nothing is missing from her carefully timetabled life. Except, sometimes, everything.
One simple act of kindness is about to shatter the walls Eleanor has built around herself. Now she must learn how to navigate the world that everyone else seems to take for granted – while searching for the courage to face the dark corners she’s avoided all her life.
Change can be good. Change can be bad. But surely any change is better than… fine?
Winner of the Costa First Novel Award
No.1 Sunday Times bestseller and No.1 New York Times bestseller
Soon to be a major motion picture produced by Reese Witherspoon
How to be happy? Walk into a bookshop and you’ll find shelves full of books on happiness. We’re all looking for tips and tricks to lead happier lives with less stress and more focus. I recently stumbled across 365 Days of Happiness, a new publication full of daily inspirations to help you mindfully work towards living a more vivid experience of daily happiness. It is a rather, excuse the pun, happy book, with bitesize tips to start the day and focus your mind. Perfect for those of you who are not into heavy duty personal development books, but just need that little reminder each day that life really is OK.
I interviewed Jacqueline Pirtle, life coach, healer and author of 365 days of happinessand asked her about the book and what makes her happy.
Jacqueline, happiness is a hot topic right now. Everyone seems to want a piece of the cake. What makes your book different?
Happiness is a great hot topic, yes! I believe that happiness is not something you do, but something you already are. It is about finding it inside of you. You are happiness and happiness is you, you two are never separate, but always one, so wherever you are, that is where happiness is too. To me this means that everyone wanting to be happy in fact means that people want to be more themselves, more of their truthful being. A beautiful way of living and experiencing this physical life.
My book is different in the way that it teaches mindful happiness, so no matter your circumstances, nothing has to change for you in order to be and live your happiness. You just have to start.
Are you a happy person by nature of did you become happier with time? What drives you?
I certainly have a very happy nature, but honestly I have my backpack of traumas,
hurts, health issues, worries and ups and downs too, just like everyone else. It is
part of living this physical life. The importance is how I look at, and feel about all these experiences. I believe that everything always happens for me, never to
me. Which makes everything and everyone always a gift for me, no matter what.
That creates a pressure-free way of living, where being happy and happier
is possible. Feeling good drives me. That is happiness for me.
You are originally from Switzerland, have lived in various other countries and now live in the US. Do you see big differences in happiness per country? Can you give examples that have inspired you or perhaps shocked you and given you a wake up call?
I love to travel and to really open myself up to every new place; to live and learn
what it is all about… every country in Europe that I traveled to was different and had
different values to teach. Every state in America I traveled and lived in
is different and teaches wonderful values. Every different country in Asia that
I traveled to had golden wisdom to teach…
I love to really, really experience every single thing and make it part of who I am. Here are a few: in Switzerland I learned about feeling safe, that staying private is nice, and to celebrate beautiful nature. Italy taught me about the essence of living a life full of beauty, food, and laughter. In the US I learned about thinking “big,” that “everything is possible,” and to “just go for it.” In Asia I learned about mindfulness, deep-ness, kind-ness, and whole-ness. In Madagaskar I learned about simplicity, nature, and smiles. And on every beach I was, I learned about simply “breathing” and “being.”
Are you ever miserable? When feeling low, what do you do to cheer yourself up?
Miserable is a strong word… But yes, I do have times when I am not feeling good. But even that realization of “I am not feeling good” makes me feel good, because I know that it is a gift for me. For example: If I don’t feel good in my body, it is my body’s gift of telling me, “Hey, you are not taking good care of yourself!” This realization gives me the
chance to shift again to feeling better. If I don’t feel good emotionally, the gift
lays in looking at what old believes and feelings I can release. Either way, when I don’t feel good, I make sure to love that moment and do whatever it takes to shift to feeling good.
The key is to acknowledge that you are not feeling good without any judgement,
then to accept, respect, appreciate, thank, and love the “what” or “whom” you are
not feeling good about. Then out of that pressure-free and resistance-free space
you can shift yourself to feeling better with whatever you need to do for yourself.
I believe happiness has a lot to do with counting your blessings and not sweating the small stuff. If you had to bake a cupcake of happiness, what would be your three main ingredients?
Gratitude. Love & Kindness (counting it as one). Excitement.
Jacquline Pirtle is not only an author, she also works as an energy healer, mindfulness & happiness coach.Find more about here on www.freakyhealer.com
365 Days of Happiness is available on The Book Depository. Order the book
*Disclaimer: in return for writing this interview I received a free copy of the book. I only review books and products that I feel suit the topic and ethics of my blog. This book made me very happy!
Off on your holidays soon? Or just in need of some book tips? Holidays are the ideal time to catch up on that reading list. It is always helpful to get some book recommendations, so you don’t have to spend too much time browsing the shop – or amazon. I have been reading a couple of great books lately, so I thought I give you a little review of both. They are both very different, but great reads and not too heavy on the brain. Let’s face it, you are on holiday after all.
book recommendations: The Circle. Dave Eggers
This book really gave me a wake-up call about our obsession with the internet. What will it be like in the future? Mae, a young professional gets hired to work for the Circle, the world’s most powerful internet company. She feels she’s been given the opportunity of a lifetime. Run out of a sprawling California campus, the Circle links users’ personal emails, social media, and finances with their universal operating system, resulting in one online identity. They are promoting a new age of transparency and want everyone to be on board. Mae can’t believe how lucky she is to work for them. But how dangerous is the Circle really, when even governments are being convinced to buy into their systems? The Circle is a book that is obviously fiction, but is not that far from our current reality and the way we use social media. This is a very topical book that draws you in, making you feel slightly uncomfortable at times, but is also highly enjoyable. A great holiday read.
book recommendations: The Forgetting Time. Sharon Guskin
Honestly, I can’t remember the last time I read a book so quickly, because I couldn’t put it down. The Forgetting Time by Sharon Guskin is a wonderful and touching story about previous lives, whether or not you believe in it. Four-year old Noah lives with his mother in New York. He keeps having nightmares and calling out for his ‘other mother’ and that he wants to ‘go home’. He says his name is ‘Tommy’, not Noah. His teachers at school can’t handle Noah and his strange stories and behaviour. Doctors suspect schizophrenia. His mother is desperate and one night when she is googling her son’s symptoms, she comes across a researcher whose work is centered around reincarnation. She is obviously sceptical, but decides to find out more, to try and ‘cure’ Noah from his troubled mind. When they go on their mission to delve into Noah’s past life, they find out the gruesome truth… The Forgetting Time is a great book about life, love, motherhood, and loss. Two mothers, two different sons, one soul. It is a story that will definitely stay with me for quite some time.
How to be happy? There’s so much out there about happiness, mindfulness, finding real purpose and joy in life. Endless rows of books, magazines, articles and blog posts (hey, here’s another one!). Today I am stepping away from the interiors and putting the spotlight on my tagline soulful living. I hope you enjoy reading it!
From feeling lost…to being grateful
It seems that many of us are feeling a little bit lost in life. Are you lost? I do have my ‘lost’ moments, but thankfully I knew from a very young age what I wanted to do in life and what makes me happy: art and creativity. I guess I was lucky. Whether it is drawing, dancing, singing, writing, designing or coming up with new ideas, being creative gives me joy, purpose and an unstoppable drive to get up in the morning and get going. I am never bored. Because I chose what I love, I have always loved working. Creating and writing – that is me, that is who I am and I am grateful for that. And I am grateful for my parents to allow me to be who I am.
Very often I find myself in conversations with people who tell me that they are not happy. They’re unsure of what they really want to do in life. They fell into a job, do what is expected of them by their parents or peers or just like the big pay check but have no time for anything else but work.
Are we all pre-programmed to become part of the rat race? Becoming robots and just doing what everyone else does? Are we just trying to keep up with the Joneses?
It seems to drive us mad, that’s for sure. And it keeps self help writers, life coaches and counsellors very busy.
Soulful living…being conscious
Soulful living is the tagline of my blog and I truly believe that life is too precious to live it any other way. So how do we do it, how to be happy? We don’t need to be happy all of the time – there is so much pressure on having the ‘perfect life’ in our culture. Why not try and feel content and value what we’ve got? Being present, conscious and sincere in everything we do. Go outside, breathe in the fresh air.
Do I have the answers to how to happy? No, of course I don’t, but today I would like to share a few thoughts and ideas that have helped me focus lately. Perhaps they’ll help you too in your own quest for happiness – or little daily struggles.
1. Practice daily gratitude
I wasn’t brought up religiously, but over the years I have picked up a thing or two from different spiritual books and practicing gratitude is one of them. Whether you pray to your god of choice at night, meditate in solitude or keep a journal, something shifts in your subconscious when you count your blessings. You have much more to be thankful for than you think.
In our house we have a ritual with our two little boys each night at bedtime. We ask them:”what was your best part of the day?” It is amazing how many things kids can come up with, which for us are normal, but they thought of as fantastic and enjoyable. Playing at break time with their best friend, a tasty lunch, new toys to play with at the childminder’s house, watching a film and eating sausages for dinner. Being mindful seems a natural state of being for kids. They ask us the same question and I admit it is really challenging to come up with equally as many great moments.
Some days all I can think of is that I enjoyed listening to the radio in the car to work in the morning and the snuggles at bedtime with the boys. “What else?” do they say. “I don’t know”, I answer, “nothing else.” They look at me puzzled. But I guess that is OK. I am working on it.
2. Write happy lists
Making lists can be very helpful to focus your mind and see things clearly when written down in front of you on a piece of paper. I recently bought the book 52 lists for Happiness, a great little book prompting you weekly to sit down and think about your life, what you find important and enjoy doing. It helps you to take stock of your past and present, as well as plan ahead and make some positive changes for the future.
What do the happy people do?
One of the lists that was a real light bulb moment for me was the one where I was asked to list the happiest people in my life and what I felt their characteristics are. Looking at the finished list, it struck me that the people I had listed actually had a lot in common:
The people I consider ‘happy’ all:
– listen well (and don’t talk about themselves much) – show an interest in others – don’t judge – smile a lot – are very active in life and involved in their community – don’t sweat the small stuff – are positive in the way they talk – are supportive
I was amazed by the similarities of the people I had listed, even though I’d never have thought of them before as very similar people. It definitely gave me food for thought and made me reflect on whether I do any of these things myself. Do I listen enough? Am I too opinionated and judgemental? Do I give enough of my time to others? Am I supportive? I realised that I probably feel most miserable when I am too focused on myself and my own silly little issues. When looking outward, helping others, life becomes lighter.
Do you feel this is true? Who are the happiest people in your life? What are they like and what characteristics do they have? Please share your findings in the comments below, I would be interested to find out if you see similarities too.
52 lists for Happiness
This undated journal with 52 listing prompts, one for every week of the year, encourages readers to reflect, invest in themselves and ultimately transform their lives by figuring out exactly what makes them happy and how to add more of that into their lives.
I know quite a few people, some very close to me, who make mountains out of moles hills. The smallest things become huge dramas. Now I am not saying that you should be nonchalant about everything and not give a hoot, but fighting life’s obstacles – or worrying about things you cannot change anyway – won’t bring you happiness, just anxiety and frustration.
Like everyone else I’ve had tough times in life, some harder than others; traumatic births and my beautiful vintage shop going up in flames to name a few, but I believe acceptance rather than anger and dwelling on the situation, has helped me get through them. Sometimes life takes over, which can be pretty hard to face up to for a someone who likes to be in control. But it is what it is and it’s up to us how we react.
By accepting, keeping the perspective and being practical (as well as talking about it to people), a bad situation becomes manageable, you can let go and move on, instead of it becoming all consuming and too large to cope with mentally. Nothing is permanent. Now, of course, I can’t speak for others going through hard times, we all deal with things differently. But this is what has worked for me and it has prevented me from going into depression.
4. Take own responsibility
It may be news to you (and I really hope it isn’t), but you will not find happiness in a big home extension, four holidays a year, a six figure salary or a big white wedding. We all know stories of rich celebrities battling with depression or ending up in their umpteenth divorce. It is not rocket science. You can’t buy happiness. Happiness is not an outside thing or a place to go to. At the end of the day, it’s up to you, how you look at things in life and the decisions you make. How to be happy? Happiness is inside of you and you’re the only one who holds the keys. Pointing fingers at people or situations is not going to help. You want to be happy? Look in the mirror. Take responsibility, make positive changes. Or scroll back up to number 2 and read what the happy people do.
5. Be mindful (and give yourself some love)
I am a mother of a three-year old and a five-year old. A business owner, a wife and a part-time marketing manager for an arts organisation. I say yes to too many things, get involved in too many projects and am a singer in a band. My life is good, but it is terribly busy at times and not always fun (but I take full responsibility for it – it is me who does it!). Now I can’t remember how I came across this book, but it’s been a great source of inspiration for me as a parent and it may help some of you too in the same situation.
Most parenting books are about how to look after your children, but this book is mainly about how to look after yourself. It gives inspiration to be more patient, loving and attentive towards your children, your partner, other parents, but most of all, yourself. What I found really helpful in this book were the suggestions of weaving mindfulness and meditation into your daily routines, taking the pressure off yourself a little. It’s all very doable. Only have 5 minutes in the morning for a quick meditation before the kids get up and all hell breaks loose? Amazing! No need to sit in lotus position either, just be mindful while folding the washing or driving to work. Mindfulness is nothing more than being present and in the now, which will ultimately make you enjoy life more and feel happy, even – or especially – during the crazy busy years.
Are you always looking for inspiring interiors? Do you love flicking through a beautiful book full of pretty homes? So do I. There is just something nice and wholesome about an actual printed book on your coffee table, rather than scrolling through millions of images on a screen. I love buying books by interior stylists or about certain topics like midcentury design, to brush up on my knowledge. The nice thing about these books is that they also make rather pretty and thoughtful gifts for fellow design enthusiasts amongst your friends (Christmas anyone?).
inspiring interiors: from boho to Scandinavian minimalism
This month I am recommending a few books by stylists who I have been following on social media for quite a while now and whose style I really like, plus a book on beautiful styling with plants. Enjoy reading!
1. Styled. Secrets for Arranging Rooms, from Tabletops to Bookshelves, Emily Henderson
Emily Henderson is a rather charming home and lifestyle blogger based in California (www.stylebyemilyhenderson.com). She seems down to earth, friendly & fun and honest and has a great flair for styling and decorating. I get very inspired by her eclectic but beautiful mixing of vintage and new. ”Perfection is boring. Let’s get weird” she says in her tagline, and I can very much sympathise with that!
Her best-seller book Styled is the ultimate guide to thinking like a stylist. It contains 1,000 design ideas for creating the most beautiful, personal, and liveable rooms. How is that for finding ideas for inspiring interiors? She also uses a lot of vintage in her styling, which of course makes it all the better. The book shows you ten easy steps to styling any space. It also teaches you how to edit out what you don’t love to repurposing what you can’t live without and how to arrange the most eye-catching displays on any surface.
”Even a few little tweaks can transform the way your room feels”… now that is some helpful, practical advice right there.
2. Urban Jungle: Living and Styling with Plants, Igor Josifovic and Judith de Graaff
House plants have really made a comeback in recent years and they sure make a room look good. I love them, even though it is an upward struggle to keep them alive sometimes. This beautiful thick book from the founders of the Urban Jungle Bloggers community is a fantastic. resource full of stunning inspirational photos. The book shows endless styling ideas, making you want to rush straight out and buy some greenery. It guides the reader through different ‘green’ homes in five European countries and shows how beautiful, unique, creative and even artistic living with plants can be. The book also offers easy help for taking care of the plants, which is a bonus.
3. The Scandinavian Home: Interiors inspired by light, Niki Brantmark
Oh, you can’t beat Scandinavian styling, now can you? Although I find some of the interiors in this book a bit too monochrome (I like colour!), they are absolutely beautiful. Plenty of inspiring interiors here. White or white washed flooring, white walls, blond wood furniture, vintage finds, black and grey accents, contemporary art, you get the idea. And light, plenty of light, which is the main focus in this book by Niki Brantmark. And I guess that’s what the Scandinavians have in common with Scotland, where I currently live: there is not a lot of it half of the year, so we better make the the daylight we do get.
Nature and the weather are major influences in Scandinavia: homes are made warm and cosy for the freezing winter months – not just literally with log burners, but also through incorporating wood and natural materials. In her book, Niki Brantmark, owner of the interior design blogMy Scandinavian Home, presents a wide-ranging collection of these beautiful homes and explores how the Scandinavian lifestyle is reflected in them all.