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Raindrops on roses and whiskers on kittens

Here’s a thought: The stories you read will often determine what you think and how you feel.

There’s a relatively new trend in psychology called bibliotherapy. According to Wikipedia, the concept behind bibliotherapy is that “reading is a healing experience. It was applied to both general practice and medical care, especially after WWII, because the soldiers had a lot of time on their hands while recuperating.”

Those were the good old days – when we actually had time to get sick and recuperate. Today, we are more likely to push through our sick days with a “to do” list that allows little or no time for the rehabilitative power of a good book.

Let’s imagine, however, that in a perfect world we did actually have time to relax and read. How would you know which book could have healing power for your less-than-perfectly-healthy self? The right book has less to do with what your actual illness is and more to do with boosting how you feel in general. There is a proven mind-body connection, so the simple answer must be to read a book that makes you happy. And what might that book be, I hear you cry?

People often devote much more energy in thought and deed to the things that bother them (i.e., make them unhappy) than they do to the good things in their lives, and therefore gravitate to subjects that validate their suffering. If you’re not sure what would make you happy, think opposites. For instance, if you’re unhappy about the economy, you could read about things that money can’t buy or sell, like soul tending.

Read an inspiring book about someone who made a contribution by the quality of his or her life rather than the lack, or quantity, of his or her wealth.

Have a Julie Andrews moment. Swirl around like a whirling dervish and ponder your favorite things. Then make a list and search the library or Amazon.com for books on those subjects, preferably with uplifting endings (the later part being of utmost importance).

So, for every deeply enlightening but brutally depressing book you read, write yourself a prescription for an uplifting, inspiring, embarrassingly happy book that will not only change your frame of mind, but also may actually change your life.

I’m just saying … who knew that good health could also come in a brown paper package tied up with string?

Sharon Lennox-Infante, contributing editor for Book Buzz, is a Los Altos resident.

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