I needed to figure out how to change my entire life. Because the current one was going badly.
It was 2002. A lot of people had it bad. But sadly I didn’t care about them. I was really depressed. My entire career at that point had added up to zero.
There were some successes. But I squandered them. I decided to lose everything. And then I needed to figure out how to get off the floor but that’s when depression hit.
Here’s what depression isn’t: it’s not sadness. It’s not being upset at yourself or another person.
It’s “I can’t get out of bed.” And once you get out of bed, it’s “Why is everyone else even making an effort when things are so bad.” It’s “Why don’t I care about anything. I don’t care about myself. I don’t care about anyone else.”
And then it’s back to bed. If you even make it far enough to hit the street.
I started taking anti-depressants but they didn’t work. Years later, the man from the depression company told me that on average it “takes 8 years to correctly diagnose depression.”
I don’t know. I don’t know what it takes. But it didn’t work.
I describe what works in my book, “Choose Yourself!” Actually, I can’t say that. I don’t know what works. I just know what works for me.
But even before I did what I described, I had to do something else.
I had to borrow a life. I had to borrow many lives. Maybe I borrowed your life.
I had to read books. When you read a book you are taking someone’s entire life that they have nicely curated for you into a 200-400 page book that you can read in a week.
What! I couldn’t believe it. I didn’t have to live their life. I could just absorb it by reading it.
If they are good writers then that means I can emotionally connect with the words they are saying as well as intellectually connect by reading. I don’t just gain knowledge, I gain know-how.
I learn what they did to survive. I learned what they did to take action. To get off the floor. To laugh. To survive. To thrive.
Books were my anti-depressant. Then books gave me know-how to get off the floor. Then books gave me ideas. Then ideas gave me actions and actions gave me people and opportunities and a new life.
I am “what you see is what you get.” I don’t care about learning new things. I care about DOING new things. Facts are forgotten. But feelings give me excitement to do.
So when I read a book I like I get excited. Maybe I want to meet the author. I have a great excuse…”Hey, can you come on my podcast?” And now I get to meet the author and ask him or her all of the questions to help me save my life again and again.
I like to give away books. Maybe if they saved my life, they can save someone else’s. I hope so. We all need a little bit of saving every once in awhile.
All of the books on the list have most of these criteria:
- they helped me save my life. In at least one case, very literally (thank you Amy!)
- they are fun and easy to read. I’m not going to tell people they should read James Joyce’s “Ulysses.” Boring!
- they are all well-written. If you can’t emotionally connect to the book, non-fiction or fiction, then they will be a drag to read and you won’t be able to feel the effect on your life.
- most are non-fiction. But non-fiction or fiction, they tell stories and give information that make my life better. In some cases, much better.
After I read any of these books, I felt my life was actually better than before I read them.
And again, they are all written by great story-tellers. I love these people. All of them came on my podcast. All of them have been very generous with their time and their lives.