My top 5 life changing books and films
In a constant quest to expand my mind, books and documentaries have been two of my greatest sources of inspiration! I’ve got a mile-long list of thought-provoking books and films that have stirred change in me, but these are my top picks that have sparked ideas and change for the better.
1. The Alchemist, Paul Coelho
Written as a parable, The Alchemist is about Santiago, a shepherd boy following his personal legend. Santiago sets off on his dream to find treasure, and along the way, learns some meaningful lessons about settling in life, beginner’s luck, what true love really means, the extent of one’s personal power, learning to surrender and let life flow through you, and how to be still and listen to your heart.
In life there’s no end to opportunities and reasons to settle for the known and the comfortable. However, each one of us carries inside a bigger and greater purpose. We’re not here by some random act of fate. My favourite quote from the book:
“And, when you want something, all the universe conspires in helping you to achieve it.”
It’s a great reminder that the universe has your back. When we tap into our heart’s desire, and begin to follow our own personal legend, not only do we personally get inspired to reach beyond our comfort zones, but the universe lines up people, events and opportunities – sometimes in the form of lessons - to help us grow and get what we want.
I must have read this book more than a dozen times, but I still get a new insight each and every time. Often when I’m tempted to settle for the ordinary, I think of Santiago’s story. It’s a reminder to dream big, follow my heart and keep trusting in my intuition.
2. The Way of the Peaceful Warrior, Dan Millman
There are so many wonderful lessons in this story, which is loosely based upon Dan Millman’s life. On the surface, he has it all. A happy upbringing, affluent parents, enviable good looks – he’s a champion gymnast working his way through college on a path to the Olympics.
His life is turned upside down when he meets Socrates, an eccentric gas station attendant who is so much more than he seems. Through his interactions with Socrates, Dan learns that he’s been walking through life asleep. He’s been living out the program of what a successful happy life should look like without knowing what true happiness is.
Working with Socrates, who puts him through a series of major (and seemingly bizarre) experiences, Dan learns how to become a peaceful warrior, realising along the way that nothing in your outer
world will ever truly bring you happiness or fulfilment. In fact, nothing in your outer world is real. Everything we experience is designed to teach us a lesson that helps us discover our true nature and continue to evolve.
3. The Four Agreements, Don Miguel Ruiz
This is a powerful book that’s had a real impact on me, the way I talk to myself and how I frame other people’s behaviour. This book is about four agreements – a code of conduct – that when lived out, enable you to have freedom, feel alive and be fulfilled.
‘To be alive is the biggest fear humans have. Death is not the biggest fear we have; our biggest fear is taking the risk to be alive – the risk to be alive and express what we really are.”
The four agreements are:
Be impeccable with your word. Your words have power so speak only your truth and do so with integrity. Words have the power to uplift or hurt so don’t use them against yourself or other people.
Don't take anything personally. What other people say and do is a reflection of their own beliefs and reality. Realising this frees you from suffering, because other people’s actions are not about you. Their opinions are really none of your business.
Don't make assumptions. Instead of letting (often false) assumptions lead to drama, Ruiz recommends that we find the courage to ask questions and gain clarity before jumping to conclusions.
Always do your best. There is peace and satisfaction in knowing that in any given situation, you’ve done the best you can in the moment. Doing this allows you to let go of debilitating self-judgement.
Ruiz says, “Practicing the new agreements in your life is how your best becomes better. Repetition makes the master.” Yup, I’m still practicing!
4. The Subtle Art of Not Giving a F*ck, Mark Manson
The title might not suggest it, but The Subtle Art of Not Giving a F*ck is a manual on aligning your life to your core values. Building a happy life is about re-examining what you believe is really important to you - living your truth, regardless of what anyone else is doing or what they might think of you.
Know the things you really care about, and stop caring about everything else. Caring less is a powerful gift that can lead to happiness.
To be clear, it’s not about being indifferent. It’s just about knowing which things to care about and saving yourself from expending energy on people and things that don’t bring out the best in us.
Manson is frank, refreshingly honest and witty. His common-sense, and at times counterintuitive, approach to living your best life definitely got me thinking out of the box! Learning to let go of what other people think is a life’s work for me. And yes - I do catch myself giving a f*ck all the time. However, these days I usually catch myself, and remind myself of the things that I really do care about. It’s made all the difference in my sense of wellbeing and my willingness to step outside of my comfort zone and do things that are considered not ‘the norm’.
5. Becoming Supernatural, Dr Joe Dispenza
Dr Joe - as he’s affectionately called by his students - is one of the best teachers I’ve ever come across. His work is fundamentally about transcending the perceived limits of human potential. It’s backed up by science and case study after case study of ordinary people who’ve experienced spontaneous healings, had mystical experiences and changed their lives for the better.
Just because we can’t experience something with our senses, doesn’t mean it doesn’t exist. He teaches that by simply getting beyond ourselves and our limited thinking, our addictions to the emotions of the past, and learning to tune into the present moment, we break free from the predictable into the unknown. The unknown, or quantum field, is where all possibility exists and where all creativity stems from. To manifest our desires, all we need to do is learn how to access that field.
Reading Becoming Supernatural, practicing Dr Joe’s meditations and participating in his workshops has taught me that we have the power to manifest any reality we want. In fact, there is a future you that exists in the quantum field, already living the life you dream of. It’s just a matter of changing your energy, reconditioning your body to a new mind, and using your thoughts to embody the emotions of that future self so that you become an energetic vibrational match to all that you desire.
This book has helped me up my manifestation game, big time! Read how to create a new reality using your thoughts if you’d like to delve deeper into the magic of manifestation.
1. Fat, Sick and Nearly Dead
Watching this during my first juice cleanse kept me focused on my ‘why’ and inspired me to learn more about the power of juicing. Read more about my first juice cleansing experience here.
Aussie Joe Cross embarks on a 60-day road trip across America, armed with a juicer and a truckload of veggies. He’s hell-bent on finding out whether drinking nothing but juice will heal him from chronic urticaria, an auto-immune disease that can be triggered by a mere handshake, causing giant painful rashes all over the body.
Not only does he regain his health, he inspires a bunch of other people along the way to try juicing. The changes to their health are remarkable. An eye-opening documentary and one I highly recommend – especially if you’re new to the world of juicing!
2. Forks Over Knives
Dr. T. Colin Campbell (professor of nutritional science) and Dr. Esselstyn (physician), demonstrate that many diseases, including obesity, cardiovascular diseases, and cancer, can be prevented, controlled and even, in some cases, reversed by eating a whole food, plant-based diet, avoiding processed food and food from animals.
Armed with decades of research into the harmful effects of animal products, Campbell and Esselstyn trace the decline in our health and increase in lifestyle diseases, correlating these statistics to the way our diets have evolved over the past century. Their research sheds powerful and insightful light on the way big business influence our eating guidelines.
The film includes plenty of inspiring examples of individuals who’ve made drastic improvements to their health by adopting a healthy, whole-food plant-based lifestyle. When I first watched this film, I was searching for answers to address my fibromyalgia, chronic insomnia and anxiety without swallowing the handfuls of pills that the doctors kept prescribing (which never addressed the underlying cause). Changing my approach to eating did!
3. What the Health
This film exposes one of the largest health cover-up of our times and addresses the links between public health organisations, big business and agriculture, and what they don’t want us to know about preventing (and even reversing) chronic diseases.
Filmmaker Kip Anderson show us that that consumption of processed meats (which The World Health Organisation has classified as Group 1 carcinogen) and dairy are linked to an increased risk of developing heart disease, some types of cancer, and diabetes.
I’m always on a search for the truth, especially when it comes to matters surrounding health. This film is a must watch for anyone who wants to empower themselves with knowledge, rather than leave their health in the hands of organisations who may just have agendas beyond keeping you healthy!
4. I Am
I watched this film during yoga teacher training, an environment where you’re typically asked to go within and ponder the big life questions. This was an apt activity to support self-enquiry as the film explores the question of what’s wrong with our world, and how can we make it better?
Directed by and starring Tom Shadyac, a Hollywood blockbuster filmmaker and A-lister, Shadyac was inspired to make the film after a cycling accident left him incapacitated and pondering his life of privilege and excess. His accident sparked an awakening, and in the film he investigates how all of us can improve the way we live and our footprint on the world.
Though I Am shines a light on human behaviour from different perspectives – good and bad – the film for me was ultimately life-affirming, restoring my faith in the human spirit and the connectedness of all beings.
5. My I Be Frank
I love this film. It tells the story of Frank Ferrente, a drug addict in his mid 50s who’s 100 lbs overweight, pre-diabetic and has Hep C. He’s divorced, estranged from his daughter, and is pretty down and out on life when he meets and befriends three empoweringly positive and spiritual guys in their 20s who work in a raw vegan café. He confesses that his one wish is to fall in love again, but he believes that no one would love him looking like this – especially when he doesn’t even love himself.
These guys take it upon themselves to make Frank their project for the next 6 weeks. He turns his life over to them and agrees to eat nothing but raw vegan food, drink wheatgrass shots, have weekly colonics and do ‘weird stuff’ like daily affirmations.
Frank’s real, raw and very likeable. Watching his journey from broken, to hopeful, to optimistic as he undergoes physical and emotional transformation is deeply moving.
I gained many insights into what it takes to make real and lasting changes to your health. It’s not just about the foods you eat. It’s about addressing your demons and being prepared to heal and love yourself.
A film with a big heart that will leave you inspired with proof that it’s possible to heal your life. If Frank can do it, so can you!
I love recommendations for books and films that expand your consciousness, so please comment below or drop me a line with your favourites.
Oh, and reading and watching is one thing, but application of knowledge is another if you want to live your best life. Maybe you’re already doing a lot of the right things, but you just need that extra boost to help you over the line. If this sounds like you, then grab a copy of my free, Ignite Your Happiness in 21 Days program, and find the happiest, healthiest version of you.