Early morning on Turtle Beach, Siesta Key, Florida — January 01, 2018. Photo: J. E. Williams

5 Small Books That Can Change Your Life for the Better

The day I first drove through Leucadia was mist-covered. Late afternoon sun illuminated rows of giant eucalyptus trees along Pacific Coast Highway 101. It felt like I had entered a magical kingdom. I moved to Encinitas, California in the spring of 1978 to practice meditation as taught by Paramahansa Yoganandya’s lineage of monks and nuns.

The Autobiography of a Yogi is a classic. But, Yogananda’s little book, Scientific Healing Affirmations, influenced the rest of my life. It appears there’s some real science to affirmation. Researchers at the University of Pennsylvania found that self-affirmation activates the brain’s reward centers. Affirmations also increase activity in the prefrontal cortex and other parts of the brain connected to self-regulation.

Almost two decades later, I spent a New Year’s Eve in San Diego at the home of one of my mentors, Bill Galt. Along with few other guests, was Louise Hay. She had recently moved from Los Angeles to Solana Beach, and though already well-known for her positive self-help books, her publishing business, Hay House, was in its infancy. I found Louise humble and thoughtful. She spoke little but smiled a lot. I had already read her “little blue book,” Heal Your Body. She believed in the power of affirmations to create new thought patterns to replace negative emotions. Louise’s work prompts others to higher self-esteem and higher purpose.

A Hay House author that I know, Frank Kinslow, helped tens of thousands in Europe. Like Louise, Frank is humble, speaks little, and keeps things simple. All of his books are short, easy reads, but each is packed with wisdom. Frank teaches that trying too hard to be happy is counterproductive. His latest work is How to Be Happy without Even Trying.

Some medium-length motivational books are also worth reading. Their titles alone inspire.

A classic about the psychology of understanding life is The Road Less Traveled by M. Scott Peck. The first sentence tells it all in just three words: “Life is difficult.”

Another is The Art of Happiness by the Dalai Lama. Like Yogananda’s work, the Dalai Lama outlines an organized method to tip the emotional scale towards feeling better. It seems that it takes an Indian Yogi and a Tibetan Buddhist to teach Westerners the science of happiness.

Small books and some medium-sized ones can change your life for the better. They’re easy to carry in a shoulder bag or backpack. Some are a little heavier but worth it.

Just when you feel that you’re alone, you find that someone else was already there. If the trail is unspoiled and well-marked, take it.

Along the way, a small but powerful book can change your life. You’ll get there. Keep going. But, occasionally take a break and read from an inspirational book.