Contrary to how it might sound, wholeheartedness is not a fluffy, happy, self-help subject. It doesn’t mean skipping down the street whistling all the time. Wholeheartedness is not even about happiness. To live wholeheartedly means living each moment fully and not running away from difficult feelings when they arise. It takes courage and requires stepping into a place of vulnerability, to just be who you are regardless of what others might think or say.
The wonderful thing about wholeheartedness is that it is a topic that is discussed broadly, with different voices and perspectives. So if you’re new to all this, you will find an author who speaks in the voice and tone that resonates with you. Whether it’s a slightly more mindful, Buddhist voice or the “F*ck it” attitude of some authors, there is definitely a book for you.
Here is a list of some of our most favourite books to get you started. We also have a Library page of recommended resources, books, audio & videos which we are adding to all the time. We also love to hear what you’re reading right now.
Daring Greatly by Brené Brown
Brené Brown rocked the TED world with her talk “The Power of Vulnerability” in 2012. It has resonated with over 45 millions viewers (as of 2020) making it one of the most viewed TED talks of all time. Brené has spent her career researching vulnerability, shame, empathy and courage and has discovered the doorway to wholeheartedness through her work. She is a bestselling author of many books. Her down to earth approach makes her work very accessible and has been extremely valuable in demonstrating that wholeheartedness is something worth taking seriously.
The School of Life: An Emotional Education by Alain de Botton
The School of Life produce a wide variety of thought-provoking and inspiring content for people who want to lead more fulfilling lives. This latest book by founder and philosopher/writer Alain de Botton is a great book to start your collection. Be sure to check out their website for information about courses, videos, talks, books and more.
A New Earth by Eckhart Tolle
Eckhart Tolle is said to be one of the world’s most influential spiritual leaders in the world, despite not actually practising or teaching any specific religion. Oprah Winfrey selected A New Earth for her book club in 2008 and has since worked with Eckhart to share the message of his teachings. Eckhart describes his earlier life as being filled with depression. He graduated from the University of London where he studied philosophy, psychology and literature and assumed he would have an academic career as a lecturer or professor. One evening while having suicidal thoughts at home, he experienced a sudden inner transformation that changed his life. His book A New Earth is a follow up to his first bestselling book, The Power of Now.
The Top Five Regrets Of The Dying by Bronnie Ware
Bronnie spent several years working as a palliative carer, something she fell into quite by chance. Her personal experience of comforting and caring for dying patients has given her an extremely unique insight into the final thoughts, emotions and regrets of the dying. She discovered that patients shared the same common themes of regret. She shared these in a blog post which went viral and has subsequently published a book on this subject. It is a truly moving and inspirational read.
The Subtle Art Of Not Giving A F*ck by Mark Manson
This book has struck a chord with millions of readers who find Mark’s no-nonsense approach a more accessible way into leading a life that is inwardly centred and not based on external sources happiness, which he argues do not exist. Anyone who has studied Buddhism, mindfulness, authenticity will find that he discusses the same topics but put in every day language and is therefore a very refreshing take on wholeheartedness.
Dying To Be Me by Anita Moorjani
There’s surely nothing like being diagnosed with terminal cancer and dying to give you the opportunity to reflect and realise that you’ve been living your life according to other people’s expectations of you and at the expense of your own happiness. Anita was pronounced clinically dead but made a miraculous recovery that doctors have always struggled to explain. She is now an inspirational speaker and author, who shares her story about how it took dying to give her the courage to live her life authentically. She encourages us all to live wholeheartedly, to be true to ourselves and not to wait for a crisis to do so.
Finding Your Element by Sir Ken Robinson
Ken is an author, speaker, expert on education and education reformer. His work emphasises the importance of creativity and innovation and highlights how school systems no longer fit the needs of society – or even individuals themselves. His TED talk “Do Schools Kill Creativity” is the most watched TED talk with over 65 Million views (2020). His work is very relevant to wholeheartedness as it highlights the need to allow children to develop as unique individuals rather than try to force them to conform to a cookie cutter approach.
Big Magic: Creative Living Beyond Fear by Elizabeth Gilbert
From the bestselling author of Eat, Pray, Love and City of Girls, Elizabeth Gilbert has written an uplifting and inspiring book to encourage every single one of us to dare to live creatively. This is not a book about being artistic; it is a book about overcoming our fears and following our hearts.
When Things Fall Apart by Pema Chödrön
Pema is an American Tibetan Buddhist and ordained nun who had an ordinary catholic upbringing and who was drawn to Buddhism after the end of her second marriage. She has published many inspiring books which are both approachable and poetic in tone.
The Alchemist by Paolo Coelho
Paolo Coehlo is an author of over 30 bestselling novels which have captured the imagination of over 100 million readers and have been translated into 67 languages. His most famous book, The Alchemist is a magical tale of poor shepherd in search of his treasure and is the ultimate story of following your heart.
How To Be Human: The Manual by Ruby Wax
Ruby Wax made her name as an actress, comedian and TV celebrity interviewer but is now an inspiring author, speaker and mental health campaigner. She completed a Masters in Mindfulness Cognitive Therapy at Oxford University after struggling with her own depression and anxiety for many years. Her work is accessible, entertaining and takes much of the stigma out of discussing mental health issues, which is relevant and incredibly valuable to everyone in today’s modern society.