I am what some people jokingly describe as “a recovering Catholic.” I was born and raised in a Catholic family, confirmed in the Catholic Church, and went to Catholic school from kindergarten through high school. While I loved the beauty in the old traditions and bought into the concept of God, something about the religion just never felt right. As I got older, the distance between Catholicism and me grew, and by the time I reached my mid-late twenties, I was completely disconnected.
This is a story that resonates with a lot of people. Many of us are born into a set of beliefs rather than choose them. We grow up immersed in the dogma of said beliefs, consistently convinced they are the only truth. But what if those beliefs don’t fit you? What if they don’t ring true for you? What if something just feels off?
Well, consider this your permission to explore.
There are thousands of different religions and philosophies out there. You do not need to limit your beliefs to those of your family, your people, or your country. You can open your mind, research, learn, and find what resonates with you. Discover a definition of life and purpose that will bring a more profound sense of meaning to your life.
Below I offer three books that helped me with that first, especially important step – opening your mind. These are not books on any particular religion or philosophy, more so books that will help release any guilt-ridden attachment you may have to your current beliefs (or lack thereof).
I call these books “purse books” because I carried each one around in my purse for weeks after finishing it. I wanted the material to be close to me. I was so touched that every chance I got, I would open them up to re-read pages that were turned down and parts that were underlined. For me, these books helped to open the door to an entirely new way of seeing the world.
I’m sharing them with hopes they will do the same for you.
1. Many Lives, Many Masters by Brian Weiss, MD
No joke, I finished this book in a day. A friend of mine had given it to me, and despite having no real idea what it was about, I chose to open it up on a rainy Sunday. I read it cover-to-cover, stopping only to gasp and reflect as I read something that really struck me.
Many Lives, Many Masters is the true story of a psychiatrist, his young patient, and the past-life regression therapy that changed both their lives. If you’re open to receiving them, the messages in this book will forever change how you view your life.
2. The Untethered Soul by Michael Singer
This one took me much longer to read, as the concepts are profound. It taught me the importance of questioning my thoughts and emotions and gave me an understanding of how I can remove the self-imposed limits I had been placing on my happiness. I continue to use the principles and practices in this book in my daily life. I’ve by no means mastered them, but I feel the difference.
The Untethered Soul will teach you a new way to view yourself, your thoughts, emotions, relationships, and the entire world around you. It provides a path to complete inner peace.
3. A Return to Love by Marianne Williamson
This book is an excellent example of how timing is everything, even when it comes to books. The first time I picked it up to read, I put it down after only the first couple pages, unimpressed with the material. Several months later, I gave it another try, and I absolutely fell in love. I couldn’t get enough of it, reading it every chance I got. By the time I finished, almost every page was turned down or had some underlined parts.
A Return to Love is a reflection on the principles in A Course in Miracles, a 1976 book by Helen Schucman. It is as the title describes – a return to and reminder of the power of love. This book can be particularly impactful – or difficult for – Christians, as it will expand the definitions of many religious terms you grew up with.
The bottom line:
These books may not be your “purse books.” They may not resonate with you as much as they did with me. But the more significant point is that something will resonate with you. If not these books, then others. So, if you don’t feel deeply moved by your current set of beliefs, it may be time to find new ones.