The Self-Discovery Digest

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Learning From the Struggles and Triumphs of Others

It is healing to know that we are not alone – that others have gone before us, facing difficulties and experiencing joys that reflect to our experience as human beings. During this time of change and economic flux it is helpful to know that we can survive, and if we are lucky, even thrive during times of challenge. With this spirit, we offer four books that capture various dimensions of the human condition. We hope they inspire you as much as they have us.

Kitchen Table Wisdom: Stories That Heal by Rachel Naomi Remen, M.D.
New York: Riverhead Books. 1996.

Kitchen Table Wisdom: Stories That Heal s an easy-to-read book packed with down-to-earth stories that offer profound insights into the mind-body-soul connection. From her experience as a doctor and professor, and as someone who herself suffers from a chronic illness, Remen shares real-life examples of the power of healing even in the most difficult of circumstances. Those who have met with any kind of illness, grief, or anguish, or who have cared for others facing these difficulties, will find this book a truly comforting and engaging read.

The Long Walk: The True Story of a Trek to Freedom by Slavomir Rawicz
Guilford, CT: The Lyons Press. 1997

The Long Walk is the gripping true-life account of Polish Cavalry Lieutenant Slavomir Rawicz’s imprisonment by, and escape from, Soviet captors during War World II. Rawicz was able to withstand grievous torture – mental, emotional, and physical – and somehow keep his faculties intact and escape with several others on foot in a harrowing journey from the Siberian Arctic through the Himalayan mountains and finally to rescue by Allied forces in India. The losses and setbacks Rawicz faced would seem insurmountable to most of us, yet this book reminds us of the simple power of determination. The Long Walk can offer us perspective on our worries and problems, and hopefully encourage us to apply a little more persistence to handling our own dilemmas.

What Matters Most: Living a More Considered Life by James Hollis
New York: Gotham, 2008

James Hollis’s latest book is a call to explore who we are – the good and the bad – and to risk giving ourselves permission “step into largeness” and become all we could be, rather than who our family, our roles, and/or our cultural programming suggests we should be. With stories from his practice and examples drawn from popular culture, he shows us ways to strike back at fear and lethargy, at feeling beleaguered and abandoned, and to find a path that is dynamic, enriching, and brings our best selves more fully to life. Read Hollis’ book to build the courage needed to seek change and thereby bring healing, meaning, and satisfaction into your life.

Sharing Wisdom: The Practical Art of Giving and Receiving Mentoring by Robert J. Wicks
New York: The Crossroad Publishing Company, 2000

Wicks’ book is organized into 40 short chapters, each focusing on one attribute that makes for good mentoring – humor, respect – and he enlivens these concepts with stories of how they have played out in his experience as a mentor and as someone receiving mentoring. Why include this book in a blog on self-discovery? Because, as Wicks puts it, “one of the major undertakings in a mentoring relationship is also primary for those interested in a process of self-understanding and self-appreciation: We need to ensure that we have ‘safe, friendly forces’ in our lives.” Wicks himself is such a force. Read this book and bring some of his positive energy into your self-discovery process.

We hope these selections will bring you hope, solace, and an opportunity to see your life in new ways. Perhaps you have favorite selections of your own – why not re-read those classics as well as recommend them to others? Isn’t it a relief to be reminded that at a fundamental level, we’re all in this together?! Spread the word!

Self-Discovery Tool Number 7
How can being a consumer of inspiring and uplifting stories (via books, movies, or other media) improve your outlook? What is one thing you could do differently that is motivated by what you have read or seen?

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