10 Books That Influenced my Way of Thinking: Tahmina Rafaella

Tahmina Rafaella is a young, beautiful and aspiring actress as well as a writer. She is an award winning actress and writer based in Los Angeles, dividing her time between the sunny state and Baku, Azerbaijan. Her first feature film “Inner City”, that she wrote and starred in premiered at multiple international film festivals. She is now working on a new feature script to be shot in 2017. She holds a bachelor’s degree in film studies & creative writing. An absolute beauty inside and outside, Tahmina has contributed a list of 10 books that have influenced her way of thinking. Let´ s read along and get inspired! 

1) Courage & Emotional Wellness (It’s a tie) by Osho
“Courage is not the absence of fear, it is, rather, the total presence of fear, with the courage to face it”. Osho celebrates uncertainty and fear as new beginnings and opportunities for growth. This was the book that introduced me to the works of Osho, and it has stayed as one of my favorites ever since.
Although I do not agree with the entire philosophy of Osho, Emotional Wellness had quiet the impact on the way I perceive heartbreak. It made me all the more realize how nothing in this world is permanent, not even our feelings. So whatever heartbreak, loss or pain you are going through right now, understand that time will not wait for your feelings to go away, it will take them away with it.

2) Letters To A Young Poet by Rainer Maria Rilke
Rainer Maria Rilke... Words cannot begin to describe the genius and wisdom behind this man. Sometimes when I do longer know how to deal with rejection and disappointment, I go back to his quote, “Be patient toward all that is unsolved in your heart and try to love the questions themselves, like locked rooms and like books written in a very foreign tongue. Do not seek the answers, which cannot be given you because you would not be able to live them. And the point is, to live everything. Live the questions now. Perhaps you will then, gradually, without noticing it, live along some distant day into the answer”, and somehow all becomes better.

3) The Alchemist by Paulo Coelho
It might sound like a cliché to include this book in my list, but I must say it holds a special place in my heart. My mother introduced my brother and I to this book when it first came out, when we were fairly young. She even offered to pay us if we read it (the only way to get kids to read adult books, am I right?). This book introduced me to the power of dreams, faith, belief and perseverance - and how much the universe really does conspire to help us when we want something hard enough.

4) Peace Is Every Step by Thich Nhat Hanh
Thich Nhat Hanh is like a melody that calms you, like a painting that makes your anger disappear just by looking at it. He is the personification of peace. I love all of his works, and his philosophy. In this book, he talks about peace and how it is not to be searched for in our environments but within ourselves. He discusses the factor of “suchness”, and how we need to understand every person’s suchness without judgment, and love them for who they are because we all carry garbage with us.

5) Big Magic by Elizabeth Gilbert
I always knew that Elizabeth Gilbert was bigger than just her huge commercial success with Eat, Pray, Love (which, I adore). Big Magic touches upon the creative genius that is within all of us, and how we need to grab on to that inspiration when it strikes us, and not wait for a a “better” time to do it. Otherwise, it will go and find a home with someone else. I also love how she says that genius is not who we are, it is something that we have.

6) Outliers by Malcolm Gladwell

Less spiritual than the other reads I mention here, but nonetheless not less truthful or wise. This is my favorite of Malcolm Gladwell’s works. It shows, with statistics and factual information, how if you want to be great, there is a way to do it that has been proven to work. It’s as simple as an equation, but it’s up to you to decide if you want to put all the work and effort into it, because hate to break your bubble, but it ain’t easy.

7) Fail, Fail Again, Fail Better by Pema Chödrön
Pema Chödrön is another one of my favorite spiritual figures who draws from traditional Buddhist wisdom. Her philosophy provides assuredness amid internal struggle. I chose this commencement speech turned into a book because of how it personally documents Chödrön's pitfalls before she was able to achieve her state of truth. She compares the failures we face to waves, and how when you keep failing and falling, it becomes easier to stand up with every fall, and over time, those waves will stop affecting you.

8) The Gift of Fear by Gavin de Becker
Another one of the less spiritual reads, but exceptional in its own right. This book, written by a specialist in security issues, touches upon the importance of listening to your intuition in times of fear. Now, this isn’t the kind of fear that Osho and the Buddhists talk about removing from your life. This is the physical fear, the one where your instinct is telling you not to ahead with something or to act on protecting yourself in times of physical danger. I think essentially, it ties back to listening to your intuition and allowing it to guide you in your actions and potentially save your life.

9) Jane Eyre by Charlotte Brontë
From all the previous books I mentioned, you might think I’m not much into fiction. Not true, and I especially love the classics. However, not many have influenced my way of thinking, even if they did provide me with much knowledge and pleasure. Jane Eyre was one of the first classic works I read as a teenager. I remember being fascinated by this strong female figure and her emotional strength and confidence that we don’t see much in books written during Brontë’s time. From there on, I started reading the works of the advanced for their time feminists, including the works of Jane Austen and the Brontë sisters.

10) My Life So Far by Jane Fonda
I’m a huge fan of memoirs. I could compile a list consisting just of my favorite memoirs. I believe that having access to personal memoirs of great/inspiring people is a gift. It allows us, to some extent, to access their minds and catch glimpses of their fears and ways of thinking that led them to their success. Jane Fonda is an example of that, and her memoir is intimate, powerful and so well written. She’s not just an incredible actress - she is an activist, a mother, a daughter, a traveler, and a wife among other things. This book opened up my love for memoirs and made me realize just how much I can learn from reading them.