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Encouraging Essays

Soon another year will begin. Another year filled with exciting book releases and new, compelling voices emerging from the different depths of the writing world. I asked my friends, co-workers, and random people on the internet to let me know which articles and essays stood out to them this year. I wanted to know what moved them, inspired them, or compelled them to think about their life, opinions, and relationships. What were the pieces they read that they absolutely had to share with at least one person? So they told me and here I have this list of 18 articles and essays published in 2014 from many incredible writers. Check it out and take a look back at some  thought-provoking moments in writing this year.


1. My Grandma the Poisoner – John Reed

“You don’t want to believe your grandmother is poisoning you. You know that she loves you—there’s no doubt of that—and she’s so marvelously grandmotherly and charming. And you know that she would never want to poison you. So despite your better judgment, you eat the food until you’ve passed out so many times that you can’t keep doubting yourself.”

2. A Tale Of Two Hipsters – Dale Beran

“This essay is an effort to use critical analysis to unravel the term “hipster” into a lattice of ideas that is clear, makes plain sense, and so therefore explains things which before to us seemed hopelessly tangled. Most articles on this topic claim the term is unknowable. This is because the word, like the entire notion of indefinable rhizomic culture movements, is ideology. It is the means by which an outside group has defined, divided, and de-legitimized the radical in our present generation.”

3. Bad Victims – Roxane Gay

“People who have been sexually assaulted know there are good victims and bad victims. Good victims, of course, do not exist but they are an elaborate ideal. They are assaulted in a dark alley by a known criminal who has a knife or a gun. They are modestly dressed. They report their assault immediately to law enforcement and submit, willingly, to a rape exam. They answer all questions about their assault lucidly and completely as many times as is necessary. They are adequately prepared for trial. They don’t pester the prosecutor as he or she prepares for trial. When they testify, they are modestly dressed. They are the girl or boy next door. They deserve justice because they are so righteous in their victimhood.”

4. Naked, Covered in Ram’s Blood, Drinking a Coke, and Feeling Pretty Good – Andrew Solomon

“And then when I had finished the Coke, they said, “Okay, now we have the final parts of the ritual. First you have to put your hands by your sides and stand very straight and very erect.” And I said, “Okay,” and then they tied me up with the intestines of the ram. In the meanwhile its body was hanging from a nearby tree, and someone was doing some butchering of it, and they took various little bits of it out. And then I had to kind of shuffle over, all tied up in intestines, which most of you probably haven’t done, but it’s hard.”

5. I Don’t Want To Be Right – Maria Konnikova

“Normally, self-affirmation is reserved for instances in which identity is threatened in direct ways: race, gender, age, weight, and the like. Here, Nyhan decided to apply it in an unrelated context: Could recalling a time when you felt good about yourself make you more broad-minded about highly politicized issues, like the Iraq surge or global warming? As it turns out, it would. On all issues, attitudes became more accurate with self-affirmation, and remained just as inaccurate without. That effect held even when no additional information was presented—that is, when people were simply asked the same questions twice, before and after the self-affirmation.”

6. The Year I Grew Wildly, While Men Looked On – Ashley Ford

“Instinctively, I wrapped my arms around myself. My clothes weren’t small. They were a little tight. That was only because my body kept growing, but only in certain places. I did my best to cover myself, to hide it, to keep looking like someone’s little girl, but I was visibly losing the battle, and had been for some time. It wasn’t just me. We were all changing. I enjoyed watching the other girls in the locker room undress, and I kept track of their growth. But I didn’t want to make them feel like I felt. I didn’t want to make them feel ogled. Did they hate this too?”

7. Snackwave: A Comprehensive Guide To The Internet’s Saltiest Meme – Hazel Cills and Gabby Noone

“It’s important to note that snackwave is different from, say, a bunch of girls eating snacks and tweeting about them. Snackwave is defined by exaggeration and extremism. You don’t just eat cheeseburgers. You wear a shirt covered in them. You don’t just eat pizza. You run a blog devoted to collecting pictures of celebrities eating pizza. In a world of Women Laughing Alone With Salad, snackwave is our saviour.”

8. All My Exes Live in Texts: Why the Social Media Generation Never Really Breaks Up – Maureen O’Connor

“All my exes live online, and so do their exes, and so do their exes, too. I carry the population of a metaphorical Texas in a cell phone on my person at all times. Etiquette can’t keep up with us—not that we would honor it anyway—so ex relationships run on lust and impulse and nosiness and envy alternating with fantasy. It’s a dozen soap operas playing at the same time on a dozen different screens, and you are the star of them all. It’s both as thrilling and as sickening as it sounds.”

9.  “Everything Is Problematic” – My journey into the centre of a dark political world, and how I escaped – Aurora Dagny

“I’ll be graduating soon, and I’ve been thinking about my years in Montreal with both nostalgia and regret. Something has been nagging at me for a long time. There’s something I need to say out loud, to everyone before I leave. It’s something that I’ve wanted to say for a long time, but I’ve struggled to find the right words. I need to tell people what was wrong with the activism I was engaged in, and why I bailed out. I have many fond memories from that time, but all in all, it was the darkest chapter of my life.”

10. I Don’t Know What To Do With Good White People – Brit Bennett

“Over the past two weeks, I’ve seen good white people congratulate themselves for deleting racist friends or debating family members or performing small acts of kindness to Black people. Sometimes I think I’d prefer racist trolling to this grade of self-aggrandizement. A racist troll is easy to dismiss. He does not think decency is enough. Sometimes I think good white people expect to be rewarded for their decency. We are not like those other white people. See how enlightened and aware we are? See how we are good?”

11. Toward An Entish Civic Ideology – James Barnes

“Stop affiliating with a party, even as simple shorthand. We have to quit demonizing entire groups of people we don’t know. Discuss ideas—not people, not regions, not backgrounds—but ideas. It is ideas that matter in formulating plans and solving problems, not fears. Refuse to do what you’re told only because someone says “time is short.”

12. The Night A Corndog Basket in Tennessee Saved My Life – Cock D.

“I made my way up a steep hill to Drifter’s BBQ. I walked in to find a pretty young girl behind the bar. She glowed with the spirit and naivety of a gaggle of orphaned boys playing an impromptu game of baseball in the middle of a dirt road. She was beauty, and if I had the ability to feel the basic human emotion of love in that moment, I might have fallen for her. She didn’t offer much for conversation, most likely ‘cause I smelled of my own shit, but her presence was warming and reminded me of a better man’s childhood, free of responsibility or molestation. She filled a hole in me, and was at least nice enough to let a scoundrel stay for lunch.”

13. Ask Polly: Would He Love Me If I Were Prettier, Skinnier, And Sweeter? – Heather Havrilesky

“But you also sum up so many wasted hours of so many women’s lives with this: “Clearly he has the capacity to care, just not about me. And I don’t understand why.” This is something stupid that smart women do regularly: They believe that they can understand anything if they just think about it hard enough. “Why? Why not me?” they ask, certain that the answer will reveal itself. “Can it really be that I’m not good enough to MAGICALLY CHANGE A NARCISSISTIC, AIMLESS, DRUNK FROG INTO A PRINCE?” None of the equations add up or make even the slightest bit of sense, but we just keep on writing them down, scribbling out numbers until our wrists ache. It’s like A Beautiful Mind except instead of winning a Nobel Prize you win a weekend of weeping on your bathroom floor.”

14. Shame and Survival – Monica Lewinsky

“It may surprise you to learn that I’m actually a person.”

15. Dear Straight Women Everywhere: In Relationships, You Always Have The Upper Hand – Rachel Hodin

“Present in all of these men’s words is evidence that, for a man, there is nothing more forceful or intoxicating than the initial sight of a beautifully captivating woman. It will lead them to disloyalty, to lose concentration on their work, and even to insanity.”

16. Fuck Yes or No – Mark Manson

“Why would you ever be excited to be with someone who is not excited to be with you? If they’re not happy with you now, what makes you think they’ll be happy to be with you later? Why do you make an effort to convince someone to date you when they make no effort to convince you?”

17. Girlfriend – Wendy C. Ortiz

“I was dying to get out of my life, the one where I was a girlfriend, a really bad girlfriend, a girlfriend who cheated and got drunk a lot and threw up on her boyfriend’s floor which was really his mom and dad’s floor, and my boyfriend who was just this guy, really, a nice decent guy, the most decent of his friends but all my friends knew that we did not have fuck all in common, leaving me with this guy and his friends who I felt some weird kinship with, and why? Just why?”

18. My Receipt Was Not Good Enough – Roxane Gay

“I paid for everything with a friendly salesperson in the video game area because that’s what you have to do with certain items. Then I went to the bathroom and then I headed for the front of the store. Now, the game was still in its security case. When I got to the front, I showed my receipt for the case to be removed. The young man studied my receipt like it was the most important document he had ever seen. My skin started prickling because I knew something really frustrating was about to happen. I just knew. Anyone who has been racially profiled knows that feeling.”

Encouraging Words: Articles & Essays that Prove Who You Are Matters Review

I have followed the spiritual teacher and author Dennis Merritt Jones for some time, having read his earlier books:

1. The Art of Uncertainty

2. The Art of Being

3. Your (Re) Defining Moments

4. How to Speak Science of Mind.

Dennis Merritt Jones wrote the foreword for my book, Awaken Your Authentic Self. Since that time, I have come to call him a friend separated by distance, yet connected through spirit.

His latest book: Encouraging Words: Articles & Essays that Prove Who You Are Matters is an exceptional collection of inspiring vignettes in the form as your personal guide. You cannot help but resonate with his words as they have a way of communicating to you in a peaceful undercurrent.

We often read a book and are lucky to gain significant lessons from the material, whether a business book or self-help book. Encouraging Words is a booked of many powerful messages and a personal wake-up call that speaks to the heart of your being.

I identified with numerous principles throughout the book and highlighted many passages, to ponder thoughtfully at a later time. The author draws on spiritual principles and teachings gained over the past thirty years of his career as a Doctor of Divinity. The most notable being from Ernest Holmes’ teachings in The Science of Mind.

There is a gentle and wise flow to Dennis’ writing that translates to the reader. You cannot help but be immersed in his words, bestowed to the reader in the form of wise counsel. This is skilfully woven with his storytelling to reinforce the messages throughout the book.

You get the sense you are sitting in his lounge room having a spiritual discourse with the author. He does not force the words onto you, even so they penetrate your psyche long after you have set the book down. I pondered several paragraphs days after finishing a chapter.

Like all good books, I was drawn to certain passages and took to my highlighter with enthusiasm. As Dennis Merritt Jones explains: “When you read (or hear) something that finds deep resonance with your soul it’s not because you are receiving anything new; you are remembering something that you already know at some level.” There are many little gems like this woven throughout the book that offer aha moments. It is though you experience an expansion of consciousness for that is what a good book should do; open you to a new awareness.

Encouraging Words: Articles & Essays that Prove Who You Are Matters contains 43 chapters in the form of articles and essays. A large portion of most books involve laying the groundwork for the coming principles that come in later chapters. The main bits are left to the end to entice you to read through to the finish. Not so with Dennis’ book. From the moment you turn the first pages, the book comes to life and continues until the final chapter.

To gain the most from the book, it is best to read it in small bursts instead of all at once. There is a lot to take in that if you rush, you risk walking away with spiritual amnesia. It is essential to reflect on the principles, for they are powerful and will leave an impact on you long after you finish reading.

The book is more than Encouraging Words of wisdom. It is a well written discourse of insights and knowledge to help the reader flourish in their spiritual practice. This is a must-have item on your bookshelf, for there is much to gain from reading the essays over again.

I have long been drawn to books on Buddhism and those of a spiritual nature because it feels like coming home to myself. They remind me of who I am — a spiritual being having a human experience, as the French philosopher Pierre Teilhard de Chardin once said. The wisdom throughout the book is simple, yet profound in its impact. Encouraging Words: Articles & Essays that Prove Who You Are Matters will help the reader connect with their greater self — the wisdom of all knowledge that lies deep within their being.

The book is available in paperback via Amazon.com.

Author Biography:

Dennis Merritt Jones has been involved in the human potential movement and the field of spirituality for the majority of his life as a teacher, author and keynote speaker. His most recent award winning book is “The Art of Uncertainty: How to Live in the Mystery of Life and Love It.” Jones is also the award winning author of “The Art of Being: 101 Ways to Practice Purpose in Your Life” and “How to Speak Science of Mind.” Dennis writes a free weekly Mindful Purpose E-Message available through his website, www.dennismerrittjones.com, and is a regular columnist for the Science of Mind magazine and the Huffington Post.

Call To Action

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