As I’m sure all of you are aware, the economy is in shitty condition right now. Although I don’t own much of value, which means I have little to lose, there’s still a level of sacrifice I think many of us have had to concede. In my case, I’ve chosen financial security over creative fulfillment.

It doesn’t help matters when the news constantly churns out reports on unemployment, bankruptcy, and middle-class families falling into poverty. The message is loud and clear: be happy with your job (if you’re “lucky” enough to have one) or suffer the wrath of our messed up economy.

Self-help books, a genre I shunned for most of my twenties, are now my saving grace. In a very short period of time, I’ve consumed Unlimited by Jillian Michaels, The Success Principles by Jack Canfield, and The Art of Non-Conformity by Chris Guillebeau. I’m aware of the stigma, but they add much-needed positive flavor to my tiring days.

After consuming the books listed above, I began to realize that some of the changes I needed to make were intellectual and spiritual, so I read Choose to be Happy, a supremely insightful book for anyone struggling to find meaning in their lives and career. As soon as I read the final page, I moved on to The Book of Secrets by Deepak Chopra. Needless to say, I’m starving for advice. Not just any advice, though, but authentic, positive, uplifting advice. Deepak Chopra, a pillar of the spiritual self-help industry, does not mess around. His texts are dense but not overwhelming, accessible but not simplistic.

Chopra’s The Book of Secrets is one of many titles cut from similar cloth. The beauty, however, of Chopra’s voice, is that he manages to unveil something new and insightful in each book. By simply changing the topic of focus, from happiness to fulfillment for example, he unravels a distinctly progressive philosophy for each facet of the human psyche.

Most importantly, Chopra provides clear action-driven advice. What good is self-help material if you don’t have any tangible ideas from which to draw inspiration? Each chapter of The Book of Secrets incorporates “next steps” for the reader to implement. Tutorials on meditation, useful quizzes and tips for being more aware are surprisingly helpful. Believe me; the quizzes are not of the Cosmopolitan variety. You will need to be brutally honest with yourself to answer the questions.

Most memorable takeaways:

• I find it absolutely disheartening to wish away my time (i.e., “is it 5 o’clock yet?”) so it was my intention to see seconds, minutes, hours, and days as gifts, no matter how insignificant they may seem. Chopra helped me understand that there is beauty and understanding in all experiences.

• The line between “bad” and “good” is very blurry. If we can learn something tremendously valuable from a miserable situation, is it still miserable? If you gain a positive new relationship from a horrible experience, is it still horrible?

• There are no “bad” choices. There are only choices, and the universe will support you no matter what. (Don’t worry; I realize that logic and reason are still important ingredients in decision making. But, over thinking, fretting, and generally freaking out is simply not necessary. Just do it.)

Have you been touched by the money meltdown or unemployment? What are you doing to stay positive? Does reading help ease the frustration?