5 Books That Changed My Perspectives In a Pandemic

I guess like alot of people, I had a little more time to pick up a book last year (and maybe click on Audible for a few too since I'm not a fast reader;-) There were a few books that helped me with my perspectives within the pandemic. And others that shaped my perspectives of myself during it.


All of it, I count as growth.


So for your own considerations, I offer what I read, and what you might get out of it too.


1. "Man's Search For Meaning"

by Viktor E. Frankl

By the end of March 2020, I felt quarantine had already lasted for eternity (oh if we only knew). And I recalled this book, that I was introduced to when I was in graduate school for counseling.


Viktor Frankl was a psychiatrist and survivor of the Auschwitz concentration camp in 1942-45, where he lost his wife, parents and brother. Clearly, our quarantine does not compare to the suffering he endured. But his experience and writings led to a therapeutic approach based on the belief that man's primary motivational force is his search for meaning.


"What remains is the last of human freedoms, the ability to choose one's attitude in a given set of circumstances." ~ VF


So I read the book again, with a new appreciation. And a current application. To choose my attitude within my quarantine, my isolation, my frustration and impatience. I found new meaning in them all. Opportunities for stillness, reflection, rest, simplicity, work, and more reading.


2. "Together. The Healing Power of Human Connection in a Sometimes Lonely World"

by Vivek Murthy, MD

SOMETIMES LONELY?!?! WTH?!

I've been alone in my house for 2 months by now! The timing of this book was by some Divine Universal Order. Seriously, think about it.


Dr. Murthy had an idea, researched, wrote, and released this book one month before the world went into isolation. If we ever were blind to our core need of genuine connection, there was no way to avoid it now.


Loneliness is an epidemic, but we can use that symptom in ourselves as the indicator light of needing a fill-up of true connection. A new insight for me was the different levels of connection that we need and can develop: intimate (close, personal), social, and community. We need all three.


And being alone (in a pandemic) did not have to mean I remained lonely.

Life lesson learned. Hashtag Better Together!

3. "Permission to Feel"

by Marc Brackett, Ph.D.

All of my clients (and friends) are probably tired of hearing about the RULER method, but when you find something so simple and empowering, don't you just want to share it with EH.VER.Y.ONE?


Brackett and the Yale Center for Emotional Intelligence are teaching this method in schools across the country. And I'm sure this is a skill that will produce life-long benefits.


The Cliffnotes: Just like we have an IQ, we also have an EQ (Emotion Quotient) that also affects our behaviors, decisions, and perspectives. And we can learn to harness that in order to not be ruled by our emotions. (see what I did there?)


RULER for your emotions: Recognize. Understand. Label. Express. Regulate.

If you can get this down, and teach it to your kids, you raise your emotional intelligence, and overall emotional wellness. No joke. Google the details. Get the book.




4. "How To Be An Antiracist"

by Ibram Kendi

How do we expect to learn about any blind spots we may have if we are not willing to look in a mirror. And even more, a mirror that someone else is holding is not easy. This was not an easy read for me.

Admittedly, on some level, I probably thought I wouldn't need many of the insights Kendi offered here. Aaaand that's the point. Among many personal lessons, I learned something very important that I intend to implement in all of my relationships moving forward: The moment I dismiss someone's expression of their perspective, that is my ego getting in the way. And THAT will ALWAYS keep us at odds and opposites and in defenses.


I believe my impact on healing any relationship will be with my humble awareness that I don't and won't ever know everything about you, or anything for that matter. I can and will relate to you, as you, as I want you to do with me.


5. "Gifts of Imperfection"

by Brené Brown

10 tools. 10 Guideposts to Wholehearted Living.

Got me through 10 months of 2020 madness.


I was amazed at how each guidepost had more relevance and application when viewed under the lens of the struggles 2020 presented.


Let go of anxiety, need for certainty, and numbing? Cultivate resiliency, gratitude, rest and play? Brené's research proving itself over and over. (and yes, I call her by her first name;-)


I have to acknowledge the 7 group participants who began the year in my program to study the guideposts, and remained dedicated and present as we moved to the virtual format. They persevered through their own personal struggles in the year, committed to their personal development, and made authentic connections. The guideposts can do that for you too.

BONUS BOOK #1

"Press PAUSE"

by Publisher Axel and Ash


Ok so not a book but more of a journal, but so fulfilling and satisfying in a different way. Instead of reading and learning about other concepts or stories, you get the opportunity to explore and document the ever-changing, always fascinating story of YOU!


"Filled with fun questions & thought-provoking prompts over 52 weeks, inspiring stories, free journaling pages and cute/quirky/motivating to-do notes."



It was the prompts that did it for me. Do you think of "journaling" and then think....well, what the hell do I

write about? Well, here ya go.

Writing helps clear a tangled mind, offers a place to be creative and introspective. You can connect with your emotions, give yourself a breather, and develop of record of memories.


Weird to think I now have this memoir of sorts of 2020. And no,

I haven't kept up with each week, but I do plan on buying this again when I get to week 52.




BONUS BOOK #2

"You Are a BADASS" (day to day calendar)

by Jen Sincero


Again, not a book, but it IS based on one! And a pretty motivating, inspiring, and badass book, at that!


Every morning, I tear off the old day to reveal a new kick in the pants message. And it never fails to feel like it says EXACTLY what I need at the time, to snap me out of a funk or fear of the moment and get me on track to creating life in bold new ways.


This is my 3rd year buying this for myself.

You don't need to read the book to receive the wake up call each day provides. But I do recommend the book too :-)


I love a good book recommendation. And I like hearing why someone recommends a book, any book. So, for what it's worth, these are some of mine that moved me.


And I dare say, they moved me powerfully, in a year that most would describe as "meh".


And so in closing, I bring us back to these words from Viktor Frankl:

" We had to teach the despairing men, that it really did not matter what we expected from life, but rather what life expected from us."

What is life expecting from you? How is it speaking to you? In a book, maybe?

How is it calling you? And where is it calling you?

What will be your answer?

THERE is your meaning.


What are some books that spoke to you this year? I'd love to hear about them!



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©2017 BY MELISSA BOWEN LPC.