TIME Family

Men Want to Remarry; Women Are ‘Meh’

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Nearly two thirds of ex-married men would consider doing it again

Americans, who have lost a little of their ardor for marriage, are still pretty game to remarry. About 40% of all the new marriages in 2013 were not first marriages and in half of those cases, both spouses had ridden in that rodeo before. And new analysis from Pew Research finds that men are much more enamored of remarriage than women are.

“Most currently divorced or widowed men are open to the idea of remarriage, but women in the same circumstances are less likely to be,” says the report, which draws on figures from a survey it conducted in May and June. Almost two thirds of men either want to remarry or would at least consider it, while fewer than a half of women would.

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Perhaps it’s not surprising then that more guys do get remarried than women. Almost two thirds of men who have been married before and got divorced or were widowed wed again, whereas only a smidgen more than half of the women do.

There are lots of possible reasons for the gender discrepancy. Women tend to live longer, so they may outlast all their potential suitors. Or, since women now have more economic freedom than they did 50 years ago, they may feel less need for a partner. And while women still bear the bulk of the home care duties, once liberated, they may feel disinclined to enter into another legally binding agreement to look after somebody else.

However, the Pew analysis seems to suggest that the guys are being the shrewder partners, at least financially. “On key economic measures, remarried adults fare better than their currently divorced counterparts and about as well as those in their first marriages,” says the report, which gets its figures from analyzing American Community Survey data. Only 7% of people who are remarried live in poverty, compared to 19% of people who are divorced and still single. “Homeownership, which often reflects wealth, is also much higher for the remarried than the divorced—79% versus 58%.”

Of course, it may not be that the spouses are more financially stable because they are married. It might be that more financially stable people are in a better position to attract partners, build sturdy relationships and get married.

Slightly less than a quarter of all people who are married in the U.S. today are actually remarried people. Fifty years ago, they only represented about 13% of married people. In the same half century, marriage has fallen quite markedly out of favor among the young. But so far, the majority of people who have tried it are willing to give it another go.

TIME justice

Ex-Wife of Oil Magnate to Appeal $1 Billion Divorce Award

7th Annual Heath Corps Grassroots Garden Gala
Harold Hamm ,CEO of Continental Resources, attends the 7th Annual Heath Corps Grassroots Garden Gala at Gotham Hall on April 17, 2013 in New York City. Brad Barket—Getty Images

This high-stakes divorce case isn't over yet

The ex-wife of an oil magnate will appeal the divorce award of over $1 billion in cash and assets that she was handed this week, in one of the largest divorce cases in U.S. History, her lawyers said Thursday.

Attorneys for Sue Ann Hamm said the $995 million sum that her ex-husband, Continental Resources CEO Harold Hamm (worth an estimated $12.6 billion), was ordered to pay her was “not equitable,” according to Reuters. She was also allowed to keep additional assets, including homes in California and Oklahoma that are worth tens of millions of dollars.

Hamm, a lawyer and an economist, worked at Continental during parts of their 26-year marriage.

Continental Resources’ shares have fallen since the divorce proceedings began. Harold Hamm holds more than 68% of the company’s stock, a stake valued at around $13.5 billion today, but was worth $18 billion nine and a half weeks ago since the trial began. The appeals process could take months or even years.

[Reuters]

MONEY

Lessons From a $1 Billion Divorce Settlement

Harold Hamm, founder and CEO of Continental Resources, enters the courthouse for divorce proceedings with wife Sue Ann Hamm in Oklahoma City, Oklahoma September 22, 2014.
Harold Hamm, founder and CEO of Continental Resources, enters the courthouse for divorce proceedings with wife Sue Ann Hamm in Oklahoma City, Oklahoma September 22, 2014. Steve Sisney—Reuters

Oil tycoon Harold Hamm was ordered to pay his ex-wife $1 billion. Even if you and your spouse don't have that kind of money, pay attention.

In one of the largest divorce settlements on record, the chairman and CEO of energy giant Continental Resources CONTL RESOURCES CLR 2.4487% was ordered Monday to pay his ex-wife $995.4 million, according to the Associated Press.

As part of an Oklahoma judge’s ruling, Harold Hamm must pay his ex-wife, Sue Ann Hamm, $322 million by the end of the year, and pay off the rest of the money in monthly installments of at least $7 million.

The ruling, which Forbes estimates will leave Harold Hamm with a fortune of $14 billion, is a vivid illustration of the economic impact that a breakup can have on divorcing spouses at any level of wealth. Unlike many wealthy couples, the Hamms had not entered into a prenuptial agreement, according to the New York Times. Such an agreement usually establishes how a couple will divide property and provide for spousal support in the event of a divorce, in place of relying on state laws.

While Sue Ann Hamm seems to be walking away from this marriage financially set, Money contributer Lili Vasileff, who works with divorcing and divorced clients, notes that wives are often financially shortchanged in a breakup. Here she explains the Seven Biggest Money Mistakes That Divorcing Women Make. Elsewhere, she discusses how lifetime alimony has become a lightning rod for criticism.

As for prenuptial agreements, Money contributing editor Farnoosh Torabi points out that they’re not just for wealthy folks and celebrities. Learn why in this video:

 

TIME People

Oil Mogul Harold Hamm to Pay Wife $995 Million in Divorce

7th Annual Heath Corps Grassroots Garden Gala
Harold Hamm, CEO of Continental Resources, attends the 7th Annual Heath Corps Grassroots Garden Gala at Gotham Hall on April 17, 2013 in New York City. Brad Barket—Getty Images

The ruling, which is subject to appeal, comes after a 9-1/2 week divorce trial ended last month

An Oklahoma County judge has ordered oil magnate and Continental Resources Chief Executive Officer Harold Hamm to pay nearly $1 billion in a divorce judgment, according to a court filing made public on Monday. Special Judge Howard Haralson found that Hamm should pay his ex-wife Sue Ann Hamm a total of $995.5 million, with about a third of the funds, or $322.7 million, to be paid by the end of the year, the filing says.

Hamm, Oklahoma’s richest man, will then be required to pay the rest of the judgment, some $650 million, in installments worth at least $7 million per month, the filing says…

Read the rest of the story from our partners at NBC News

TIME Books

Here Are Some Sex Tips From Amy Poehler’s New Book (Plus Insight on Motherhood and Divorce)

2014 ELLE Women In Hollywood Awards - Arrivals
Amy Poehler arrives at the 2014 ELLE Women In Hollywood Awards at Four Seasons Hotel Los Angeles at Beverly Hills on Oct. 20, 2014 in Beverly Hills. Steve Granitz—WireImage

The Parks & Rec star's new book, Yes Please, is out on Oct. 28

Amy Poehler’s new book, Yes Please is out today, and the title pretty much sums up everyone’s attitude when we heard the notoriously nice funnywoman was finally writing a book. An Amy Poehler book? Yes please! That’s probably where she got her title.

The Parks & Rec star explains where she got her title, in a winning yet insightful passage in the book’s introduction:

It’s called Yes Please because it is the constant struggle and often the right answer. Can we figure out what we want, ask for it, and stop talking? Yes please. Is being vulnerable a power position? Yes please. Am I allowed to take up space? Yes please. Would I like to be left alone? Yes please…”Yes Please” sounds powerful and concise. It is a response and a request. It is not about being a good girl; it is about being a real woman.”

But if you can’t pick up the book, or your bookstore is out of it, or you’re waiting in a line behind everyone else in the world and just want to know the highlights, here they are:

On hot sex tips:

In the “World Famous Sex Tips” chapter, Poehler has some choice advice for women and men about how to get it on:

For women:

Try not to fake it: I know you are tired/nervous/eager to please/unsure of how to get there. Just remember to allow yourself real pleasure and not worry about how long it takes…God punished us with the gift of being able to fake it. Show God who the real boss is by getting off and getting yours.

For men:

Be nice, tell your woman she is hot, never shame her, and never hurt her.

Also, she advises not to let your kids sleep in your bed, which is probably a good idea for both men and women.

On her mantra for women who make different choices:

Poehler describes the experience of giving birth to her first son, and making choices about delivery that were different from what her friends were doing (she opted for lots of drugs, not a “natural birth.”)

Good for her! Not for me. That is the motto women should constantly repeat over and over again. Good for her! Not for me.

Poehler also notes that her OB-GYN had delivered Sophia Loren’s children, which was fitting because she (Poehler) has “the Angelina Jolie of vaginas.” This celebrity gyno doesn’t end up delivering Poehler’s son, but you’ll have to read the book to find out why…

On motherhood, and why “every mother needs a wife:”

Poehler has an excellent chapter on motherhood, titled “Every Mother Needs a Wife.” At first, she gets into the down-and-dirty of the mommy wars (perfectly lampooning the subtle digs of working and stay-at-home moms.)

“The ‘I don’t know how you do it’ statement used to get my blood boiling. When I heard those words, I didn’t hear ‘I don’t know HOW you do it.’ I just heard ‘I don’t know how you COULD do it.’ I would be feeling overworked and guilty and overwhelmed and suddenly I would be struck over the head by what felt like someone else’s bullsh*t. It was an emotional drive-by. A random act of woman-on-woman violence…

But then Poehler gets to what she actually means by “every mother needs a wife.” The chapter ends with a touching tribute to the nannies who care for her children, similar to the tear-jerking toast she gave at the TIME100 gala in 2011. These women, she says, are her wives.

“Do you know how I do it? I can do it because I have a wife. Every mother needs a wife… Some mothers’ wives are their mothers. Some mothers’ wives are their husbands. Some mothers’ wives are their friends and neighbors. Every working person needs a wife who takes care of her and helps her become a better mother… the biggest lie and biggest crime is that we all do this alone and look down on people who can’t.

On divorce:

True to form, Poehler doesn’t dish any juicy details at all about her 2013 divorce from comedian Will Arnett, but does write insightfully about how difficult the process was.

“Imagine spreading everything you care about on a blanket and then tossing the whole thing up in the air. The process of divorce is about loading up that blanket, throwing it up, watching it all spin, and worrying what stuff will break when it lands.

She notes that she isn’t going to get into any specifics, because it’s “too sad and too personal,” but she will say this:

“I am proud of how my ex husband, Will, and I have been taking care of our children; I am beyond grateful he is their father and I don’t think a ten-year marriage constitutes failure. That being said, getting a divorce really sucks. But as my dear friend and relationship sponsor Louis CK has noted, “divorce is always good news because no good marriage has ever ended in divorce.

On awards shows:

Poehler has been nominated for many acting awards (mostly for Parks & Rec, although she was nominated for two Emmys for her time at SNL, and for some movies). Although she has not yet won an Emmy for Parks & Rec, she is known for staging “bits” with other nominees to take some of the pressure off who wins. Here’s why:

“The worst part of being nominated for any award is that despite your best efforts, you start to want the pudding. You spend weeks thinking about how it doesn’t matter and it’s all just an honor, and then seconds before the name of the winner is announced everything inside you screams… “GIMME THAT PUDDING!!” Then comes the adrenaline dump, followed by shame.

She describes all the various stunts she’s pulled at awards shows, from wearing fake mustaches to pretending to be in a beauty pageant to switching speeches with Julia Louis Dreyfus, to a fake flirtation with George Clooney.

“The lessons? Women are mighty. George Clooney loves bits. Doing something together is often more fun than doing it alone. And you don’t always have to win to get the pudding.”

On doing drugs:

She’s pretty open about her drug use, which is kind of awesome. The verdict: weed rocks, cocaine feels great but terrible the next day, and everything else ruins lives.

“In my twenties I tried cocaine, which I instantly loved but eventually hated. Cocaine is terrific if you want to hang out with people you don’t know very well and play Ping-Pong all night. It’s bad for almost everything else… The day after cocaine is rough…The next day is the thing I can’t pull off anymore. How do you explain to a four-and-six-year old that you can’t play Rescue Bots because you have to spend all day in bed eating Cape Cod potato chips and watching The Bicycle Thief?

But is she worried that her kids will read the book and think drugs are okay? Nah.

“What’s more boring than your own mother’s take on her own life? Yawn. Also, I am counting on everyone living on the moon by the time my children are teenagers, and that they’ll have really interesting space friends who are kind and good students and think drugs are lame and “totally, like, Earthish.”

More, please!

Read next: Marcel the Shell (With Shoes On) Is Back

MONEY Financial Planning

A Simple Tool for Getting Better Financial Advice

financial advisor with couple
Ned Frisk—Getty Images

If a financial adviser doesn't know what's going on in a client's life, the advice will suffer. Here's one easy way to fix that.

True story: Many years ago, I was meeting with a married couple for an initial data-gathering session. Halfway through the three-hour meeting — the first stage in developing a comprehensive financial plan — the husband excused himself for a bathroom break. As soon as the door shut, the wife turned to me and said, “I guess this is as good a time as any to let you know that I’m about to divorce him.”

That’s just one example of why exploring a client’s financial interior is a worthwhile investment for both the adviser and client. All the effort we had expended on their financial plan, for which they were paying me, was for naught.

So how can an adviser really understand what’s going on with his or her clients?

A great first step is to fully explore the simple question “How are you doing?” Not “How are your investments doing?” or “How is your business doing?” but “How are you doing?”

As financial planners, we are quick to put on our analytical hats. We will gladly examine numbers down to three decimal places, but we often fail to delve below the superficial on a relational level.

Here’s a tool that can help. I include it with permission from Money Quotient, a nonprofit that creates tools and techniques to aid financial advisers in exploring the interior elements of client interaction. It’s called the “Wheel of Life”:

Wheel of Life

The instructions are simple: you rate your satisfaction with each of the nine regions of life listed on the wheel. Your level of satisfaction can range from zero to 10—10 being the highest. Plot a dot corresponding to your rating along each spoke of the wheel. Then you connect the dots, unveiling a wheel that may — or may not — roll very well.

If you’re wondering what value this could bring to your client interaction, consider these five possibilities:

  • It’s an incredibly efficient way to effectively answer the question, “How are you doing?” In a matter of seconds, you know exactly where your client stands. You now have an opportunity to congratulate them in their successes and encourage them in their struggles.
  • It demonstrates that you care about more than just your client’s money. It shows that your cordial greeting was something more than just obligatory. It shows that you recognize the inherently comprehensive nature of financial planning.
  • It helps in gauging how much value you can add to a client’s overall situation. For example, if this is a new client, and all the numbers are nines and tens except for a two on the “Finances” spoke, then it stands to reason that good financial planning could have a powerfully positive impact on the client’s life. If, on the other hand, a prospective client’s wheel is cratering, you might conclude that his or her problems lie beyond the scope of your process. Your efforts may be in vain, and a referral to an external source may be in order.
  • It could tip you off to a major event in a client’s life that should trump your agenda for the day. Many advisers use this exercise as a personal checkup at annual client meetings, sending clients the “Wheel of Life” in advance. Doing so encourages clients to share if they have suffered one of life’s deeper pains, like the loss of a loved one. That’s likely your cue to recognize that now isn’t a time to talk about asset allocation. It’s simply time to be a friend and, as appropriate, address any inherent financial planning implications.
  • You’ll likely find it a beneficial practice for you, too! I don’t recommend putting a client through any introspective exercises that you haven’t completed yourself. So please, complete your own “Wheel of Life” exercise. You’re likely to see this tool in a new light and find valuable uses for it that I’ve not uncovered here.

———-

Financial planner, speaker, and author Tim Maurer, is a wealth adviser at Buckingham Asset Management and the director of personal finance for the BAM Alliance. A certified financial planner practitioner working with individuals, families and organizations, he also educates at private events and via TV, radio, print, and online media. “Personal finance is more personal than it is finance” is the central theme that drives his writing and speaking.

TIME Books

30 Self-Help Books That Permanently Changed My Life

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If you met me in high school or college, you would not recognize me as the self-assured chick I am today. I owe it all to these 30 books

xojane

This story originally appeared on xoJane.com.

I was the kid in high school who agonized over whether I had interacted with the popular girls the “right” way as we passed in the hallway between classes. Every moment a potential minefield or humiliation. To seem stupid. To look like a loser. There was this fakey hug-kiss thing that started when I was a freshman that was so hard for me to not feel like a dork when I mimicked. I mean, I didn’t feel comfortable in my own too-tall skin let alone embracing someone else, all the while trying to act as if I, you know, actually felt good about myself or something.

It was all so stressful. I would fret when someone looked at me the wrong way, if a teacher said a potentially critical thing (because obviously one’s entire worth as a human being is determined by academic accomplishments), or most mortifying of all, if a “friend” who talked to me in private then gave me shade when a more cliquey group of girls passed our way.

I felt wrong, wrong, wrong.

I don’t know how much was nature and how much was nurture, but I know I was a very sensitive, hyper-aware kid who felt things very intensely. This physical makeup was also molded by a dysfunctional, boundary-less childhood with some trauma along the way.

Then, everything in my life and perspective dramatically changed — when I got divorced at the age of 30.

The dark wrongness now permeated everywhere in my life, and somewhere along the way I think I realized: If everything is wrong, then maybe nothing is.

This is when I first wholeheartedly gave the whole stupid embarrassing oeuvre of self-help a chance.

God, how glad I am that I did.

My brain is totally different now and I know that I control my happiness — not anyone outside of myself.

P.S. One quick contextual anecdote before I get to The List. I dated a guy once who said, very concerned as he saw me poring through some of these books, “It’s like one day you’re into this self-help author and the next you’re into another one. I mean: What’s next?” I believe he was afraid that I was addicted to seeking, which I do think can be an actual problem (see: Scientology), when you don’t trust your own self and intuition, but I also disagree with his thesis.

You would never say to an MBA student: “One day it’s this course, and then the next day it’s this other one. I mean: What’s next, statistics?” I think that investment in your own personal development is one of the best investments you can ever make in your own life and happiness, even if isn’t cool to admit to doing so.

My progress from a weepy self-hating paralytically over-apologetic constantly worrying shy chick to a person who is quite the opposite is absolute testament to that, I believe. (Also: Having done Caron Institute’s exquisite Breakthrough Program, I wholeheartedly recommend their suggested reading list as well. It is excellent.)

And here’s mine.

1. “The Breakout Principle — This audio book got me through my divorce. I used the principle of “severing” immediately when I found myself going into a trauma cycle by drawing a picture (changing my state) or going for a walk or taking a shower. It also taught me (through legit scientific examples of functional MRI) that when you work your brain intensely, by giving it a break, you’re giving yourself a chance for the “a-ha” moments to come to the fore.

2. “Awaken the Giant Within — Goofy Tony Robbins. He’s ridiculous, sure, but he’s also boiled down a ton of cognitive theory about how to change your interior world view, and he gives incredible motivation that can offer critical fuel in the very toxic at times world we live in.

3. “The Secret — Take it with a major grain of salt. All I know is that when I started employing the whole law of attraction hocus pocus, I saw results again and again. Is it placebo? Fine. I’ll take it. Are people responsible for their own cancer? Nope. That’s looney-pants.

4. “You Can Heal Your LifeandYou Can Heal Your Life: Workbook — My favorite. My absolute favorite. I buy this book for people on the street sometimes. If you don’t change the way you talk to yourself — or continue slogging yourself down with criticism — nothing will change.

5. “The Road Less Traveled — This book almost made me break down it hurt so much at times to read. All of the advice the author gives to parents for teaching children about their inherent value above all else — and categorizing the two fundamental neuroses of the world (you either think YOU are responsible for all the world’s problems or you think the WORLD is responsible for yours) — hit spot on. No one said self-awareness and looking within was easy, but it’s worth the discomfort. I promise.

6. “The Six Pillars of Self-Esteem — Another book I will randomly buy for strangers. I like my self-help books like I like my math: straightforward, logical and broken down into units. I listened to this book after a year of sobriety, and I could feel my backbone strengthening.

7. “Many Lives, Many Masters — Self-help? Maybe not, but this book gave me incredible peace about death in a way I never dreamed possible. It also contains the beautiful analogy of our souls being shined like diamonds amidst the pressure along the way.

8. “A Return to Love — An atheist comic friend, who I had a 48-hour-romance with, recommended this book to me and told me just to ignore “all the Holy Spirit mumbo jumbo.” I love that. My atheist ex-boyfriend saw me reading the book one time and said, “Ah, Marianne Williamson. So what does that charlatan have to say for herself now?” God I do love atheists. They’re so fucking funny. So, sure. Like “The Secret,” there’s a lot of woo-woo hoo-hoo. But it gave me peace. It helped me get better at loving myself. Two things which aren’t easy to do.

9. “How to Survive the Loss of a Love — This is one of the most popular self-help books ever written. Millions sold. It is very sweet. One of the only books to gently, as a person might, take your hand and help you through the grieving and mourning process: whether the death be an actual person, a relationship, a job, or even a past incarnation of yourself.

10. “Use Your Body to Heal Your Mind — This book taught me how to do EMDR on myself and also helped me to understand to stop bartering for love. I’m getting better. That’s all I ask.

11. “Your Inner Awakening: The Work of Byron Katie — Even if you don’t read the book, the Cliff Notes version of her work is worth checking out, or as this Oprah blog on it asks: “Can these 4 questions change your life?” My mom and I listened to this one together, and it was very epiphany generating. Essentially, it helps you break down all those assumptions that might be screwing you up by helping you “turn it around.” Crying that your partner isn’t giving you enough love? Break it down using her process, and you might end up examining how YOU aren’t giving enough love. Challenging, in the best way possible.

12. “Waking the Tiger — A dear friend gave me this book, and it altered the way I looked at my body’s responses. For instance, I jump out of my seat at any loud noise, just like my father who is a combat vet. I have in the past started to cry when someone seemed to care and give me love genuinely, because it was hard for me to take. This book is a wonderful mind-body connector.

13. “Courage to Change — Even if you don’t do Al-Anon, if you’ve had any kind of dysfunction in childhood, this book reads as if it was written directly for you. So nurturing and life changing.

14. “Anatomy of the Spirit: The Seven Stages of Power and Healing” — I do not care for a lot of Carolyn Myss’s stuff, but this book has always stayed with me. Particularly the idea, the metaphor, of the “cell tissue” you are expending through lower-energy emotions of jealousy, hatred, bitterness, etc. If you like spiritual works, you may find this book healing.

15. “Zero Limits — “I love you, I’m sorry, Please forgive me, Thank you.” These four sentences as a little prayer of offering are explained as a “secret Hawaiian system” to all wonder of prosperity. I say it to myself quite often when I’m walking my dog or even as an alternate to stressful thoughts that seem to come on like a panic attack. It’s a beautiful clearing, just like doing one of my favorite meditations, the Metta Bhavana.

16. “New Psycho-Cybernetics — Written by a plastic surgeon who dealt with so many people who wanted to cut themselves up because they hated what was inside, he knows of what he speaks.

17. “Your Erroneous Zones — One of the original Wayne Dyer books. It’s quite simple, but like some of Tony Robbins’ takes on dealing with emotions, and choosing the way you use them, it’s incredibly practical and positive.

18. “A New Earth — Can there be such a thing as addiction to misery? Absolutely. Give this fakey-guru a chance and soak it in. You’ll be glad you did.

19. “Women Who Love Too Much — Crappy relationship after crappy relationship where you put up with abuse and keep trying to “fix” someone? Read this puppy.

20. “Mama Gena’s School of Womanly Arts — So, so ridic, including making a damn mold of your vagina out of Play-Doh or some shit, but I swear to God, if you need to give yourself some sexy energetic female juju, this book is a good kick in the pants. Bubble baths! Candles! Weeee!

21. “A Gentle Path Through the 12 Steps — If you’re interested in recovery, this is a classic. Even if you’re not in recovery, the 12-step principles can be very practically applied, especially the idea of “turning it over.” Doesn’t even need to be to God. Can simply be to just “forces of good.” Letting go is everything. And so damn easy to forget.

23. “7 Habits of Highly Effective People — Do you like what I’m writing, reader? Tell me about that. I’m interested in what you have to say… (Ha-ha, gotcha! Just used a principle.) So it’s hokey and a little schmarmy, but hey, if you’re not naturally Mr. or Ms. Charisma by nature, this book will help you learn how to deconstruct the scariness of intimidating social situations.

24. “Feel the Fear and Do It Anyway — I bought this ridiculous, yet helpful, book when I was 20 years old. It was a start. It helped.

25. “The Power of Your Subconscious Mind — Kind of like an early version of “The Secret.” For some reason, it speaks to me. I tried it the night that I read it, thinking to myself, “I’m going to wake up at 8 a.m. tomorrow,” and do you know that I woke up at exactly 8 a.m.? Ha. Yes, that miracle alone is reason enough to recommend.

26. “Love is Letting Go of Fear — This is a quick, beautiful little book. Illustrated and sweet, and definitely the title says it all, but like many of the simplest truisms, can be so hard to integrate into your consciousness. The psychologist who wrote this helps you do that, and the entire book feels like a hug to the soul.

27. “iWant — Know that tabloidy CNN anchor who got sober and then became a lesbian? She wrote this book. It was on the “free shelf” at The Post where I picked it up. Free meaning a publicist sent it, and whichever reporter received it discarded it for anyone who might be interested. I picked it up in my early days of sobriety, and it helped me a lot to read someone who worked in my field talking about the whole upheaval-inducing (in a positive way) process.

28. “The Wounded Heart — If you have any kind of sexual abuse in your past, this book is a must. Stop what you are doing right now and purchase it. I’ve never felt some of my dysfunction related so compassionately to me before as when this author explained about the “weed” of abuse becoming entangled in the “rose” of sexuality, and how the human reaction can be to hate yourself for wanting to be loved. Gorgeous.

29. “The Four Agreements — God this book helped me. Mostly the idea of not taking things personally, something I suck at quite often. Many folks do, I think. The book is boiled down here, which is definitely worth a glance. If you can come from that place of not taking things personally (and the other three agreements are stellar as well), your happiness will increase a hundredfold.

One caveat for “not taking things personally”: I do think that there are people who (be they sick or suffering or perhaps clinically sociopathic) are not good-hearted, well-intentioned people. (Fuck, just read “The 48 Laws of Power” or “The Art of Seduction” if you want a little primer on that.) So in those cases of the baddies, I always say STILL don’t take it personally — but protect yourself.

Here’s how: Stop trying to win the unwinnable and do what you need to do to take care of yourself. For me, in the past, that’s meant just agreeing with a sadistic boss, “Oh I agree, yes, yes. I’m wrong, yes, yes, I agree, uh-huh, you’re right, absolutely,” even when I knew the fighting wasn’t fair. My friend Jessica Delfino actually wrote a song about my tactic called “Nod, Smile and Apologize.” I took care of myself, didn’t take it personally and just got through. Life ain’t fair, kiddos. Use what tools you have.

30. “Handbook to Higher Consciousness — Last but not least, I found this gem on my parents’ bookshelves. They met when they were getting their masters in counseling at San Diego State University so they have a plethora of crap like this tucked away they’ve never actually read. My favorite idea from this book is the very Buddhist notion that all unhappiness in life stems from your addiction of what you EXPECT to happen and how things “should” be. Let go of that sucker, and boom: Freedom.

Honestly, this list was incredibly hard to put together because I wanted to include so many other books also lodged permanently in my subconscious. Like, even, “The Game” by Neil Strauss, which while largely about picking up women provides awesome bullshit-zapping tactical training for women and also boils down tons of NLP and confidence-boosting skills for those who struggle with shyness or social intimidation.

Strauss’s buddy, the semi-conman-ish (but filled with terrific ideas) Timothy Ferriss also wrote a classic in “The 4-Hour Workweek,” which is worth it for the email and media condensing advice alone. Another embarrassing-ish book I like? Well, the subtitle on “Why Men Love Bitches,” which is “From Doormat to Dreamgirl” explains why that book has a soft space in my heart pretty clearly I think.

I also like “Change or Die,” which pinpoints the reason change is so hard for so many: The human egoic fear that to change would to be to admit that You Might Have Been Doing it Wrong All Along. By that token, zeitgeist-plunderer and idea-man Malcolm Gladwell’s books are all worth the effort, especially the chapter on predicting the failure or success of relationships in “Blink.”

I’m also a big fan of quoting the Olympic athletes who visualized their routines beforehand who then won the gold medal anecdote from “The Success Principles” as a justification or motivation for imagining something going well. (I do it with career all the time; now I just need to be better about doing this in my dating life.)

Gary Zukav’s “The Seat of the Soul” is magnificent, and I only read after Jane Lynch recommended it in her lovely, self-help-riddled (in a good way) autobiography “Happy Accidents.” Lynch also loves “Goddesses in Everywoman,” which is fascinating and thought-provoking and leads me to look at Persephone archetypes in my own life to this day.

Also, special thanks to my Facebook friends for helping me remember “Way of the Peaceful Warrior” a book that I was blanking on and spent a half hour Googling “wheelchair,” “motorcycle,” “paralyzed” and “inspirational movie” to no avail tracking it down — and really loved. At the least, watch the Amazon Instant DVD if you’re looking for a shot in the arm of inspiration (unless you are a born and bred cynic, which means I’ll probably love hanging out with you, but yeah this movie is probably not for you).

So… what books have had the most impact on your life (even if they’re not classically stocked in the “personal development” row, or whatever that hidden way, way in the back section at Barnes & Noble is called nowadays)?

What books on this list do you absolutely despise? Let me guess. “The Secret,” right? I feel you. With all of these books, please know I’m recommending with that old unofficial 12-step-ism, “take what you like and leave the rest.”

Mandy Stadtmiller is Editor-at-Large at xoJane.com.

TIME Ideas hosts the world's leading voices, providing commentary and expertise on the most compelling events in news, society, and culture. We welcome outside contributions. To submit a piece, email ideas@time.com.

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