The best 2022 reads for being better at being human
If we aren’t growing personally, can we grow professionally?
Welcome to my third official, unofficial book club installment. Since it’s the beginning of the year, it felt like an opportunity to share a few reads to help us get better at being human in the year ahead. And not in the stereotypical and overplayed “exercise more, eat differently” way. This list is also not the answer to becoming a billionaire, or squeezing 60-hour work weeks into 40 hours.
This reading list is for folks who want to forge deeper connections with the people in their lives, manage personal and professional time differently, and learn about tools that can expand our emotional vocabularies and redefine what it means to rest and relax. I’d be surprised if you don’t experience the positive impacts of these books and their tools across every sphere of your life, from personal to professional, and beyond.
The Sober Lush:
I know what you’re thinking: “Is this a Dry January book?” And the answer is: only if you want it to be. The Sober Lush isn’t focused on how to quit alcohol. It’s about examining our relationship with it and finding ways to indulge, relax, get sensual, be free, and so much more, all without booze. The authors question the way that we use alcohol to unleash and unwind — a default crutch for connection, decadence, socialization and pleasure. It inspired me to look beyond an evening glass of wine and into other avenues for reward in my life. I found myself buying incense — something I used to love — and luxuriating in the ritual of burning them around my home, or during a bath. It also inspired me to try new things, like a sensory deprivation chamber.
The point is, many of us are in need of rest, reward and ritual, and this book offers a wonderful way to reevaluate our relationship between alcohol and these needs. Grab a copy for your nightstand. The chapters are short, 2–3 page musings that make for easy-to-read soundbites.
The Sober Lush: A Hedonist’s Guide to Living a Decadent, Adventurous, Soulful Life — Alcohol Free…
A sober hedonist’s guide to living a decadent, wild, and soulful life — alcohol-free.In a culture where sipping “rosé…
You know I love to reference my Design Sprint friends, Jake and John, the co-authors of Make Time. This book isn’t new, but it does feel particularly relevant as we begin a new year and the typical period of overwhelm associated with ramping up after the holidays. It’s an excellent tool for managing time with more intention so that you can “create” more time.
The book is filled with tips and methods. A few of my favorite suggestions include:
- Have a clear focus or highlight for your day
- Skip the morning check-in (with the news, email, facebook…)
- Schedule blocks of time for admin work and miscellaneous, lower-priority items
- Stay out of “infinity pools,” e.g. all social media, and manage your love affair with email (I even deleted my email app from my phone!)
- Hold blocks of time on your calendar for larger tasks that require uninterrupted work time (and honor them!)
This book will help you to focus on the tasks that matter, reprioritize those that don’t, and learn new ways to navigate the day. This is the title for you if you need help designing your day to be more productive and less jam-packed, all at the same time. Who couldn’t use a little more time in their lives?
Make Time: How to Focus on What Matters Every Day
Make Time: How to Focus on What Matters Every Day [Knapp, Jake, Zeratsky, John] on Amazon.com. *FREE* shipping on…
Let’s Talk About Hard Things:
We just rolled out of the holiday season and, let’s be honest, time with family can make us feel like angsty teenagers all over again. As adults we become better at avoiding, ignoring, and living with challenges, but it doesn’t mean we inherently become better at processing them. This book and the following title offer tools for navigating the complexities of being humans who interact with other humans.
In Let’s Talk About Hard Things, author Anna Sale encourages us to have tough conversations in a thoughtful and meaningful way. She shares personal stories and examples, along with tools for adopting the practice. It might be challenging and uncomfortable at times, but it creates space to live a more authentic life. In the author’s words:
“Once we open the door, these conversation can be life-changing. As Andrew Solomon wrote in his book Far from the Tree, “the absence of words is the absence of intimacy.” When we let tensions fester, or allow familiarity to pass for understanding, we tend to leave parts of ourselves out of our most important relationships. We miss out on the opportunity to continue to grow. We loose track of who we want to be, and we can’t share our full selves with those we love.”
This book is an excellent tool for navigating the challenging emotional landscape of being human, and it feels relevant now more than ever.
Let's Talk About Hard Things
From the host of the popular WNYC podcast Death, Sex, & Money, Let's Talk About Hard Things is "like a good…
Atlas of the Heart:
This is another book that feels topical during the post-holiday season, as well as the never-ending pandemic season we live in.
Do you sometimes get stuck finding the right words to describe how you’re feeling to peers, colleagues, and/or loved ones? If so, Atlas of the Heart by Brené Brown is a great tool for expanding the language of emotion and, ultimately, helping us better process and share our experiences.
This title is an encyclopedia of emotions that are grouped according to category similarity. Brown identifies an emotion, explores how it feels, then illustrates how it shows up. For example, it’s really easy for us to say “I’m so pissed off”, but Brown’s research indicates that anger has become a blanket word to mask more complex emotions like shame, fear, guilt, sadness, betrayal, and beyond. The graphic (at left) does a great job at illustrating this idea.
When we have the words and understanding to accurately name our feelings, it gives us the power to better know ourselves. It can also help us offer language to others struggling to express their emotions. As a facilitator (and mother to a three-year old), I know this aspect will come in handy whether I’m interacting with a team of executives, or my daughter.
These books are great tools for getting to know ourselves better as humans, breaking cyclical patterns, and taking control of how we spend our time. And the list certainly isn’t exhaustive.
I’d love to hear about what you’re reading. Is there anything you’d recommend as we start a new year? Drop the titles in the comments below. I’m always looking for suggestions!
Feel free to share this article, or give a “clap” if you enjoyed it. For more information about me and my work as a facilitator, visit jackiecolburn.com.