Review: How this one book made me rethink everything about making myself happy

28 Sep 2021
By Hazel M., Freelance writer, journalist and total bookworm at Unite Students
As mental health becomes more openly talked about, self-help books are becoming a growing, and more accepted, genre in the book world. Here, Hazel reviews Ice Cream for Breakfast by Laura Jane Williams – a book all about finding that childish magic again and putting yourself first.

If you’re a bit like me, a total Capricorn who thrives on pushing herself, loves structure and harbours an insatiable need to succeed, then rest days probably don’t really exist for you (and switching off is just a myth).

The thing is, when you’re balancing studies, a social life and a part-time job, sometimes you really need those days off, where all you do is sit in bed all day and watch Netflix.

And, whether you spend that time consumed by guilt that you’re not doing something more productive or you, inevitably, come up with your next side project idea, that down time is more precious than you think.

After I first graduated, I landed my first job and life seemed to go at a million miles an hour. I jumped from studies to working, to new job after new job, and chasing my dream became an obsession.

After a while, though, I realised I wasn’t enjoying it all that much – and someone recommended I take some time out to read Ice Cream for Breakfast by Laura Jane Williams.

Like me, Laura was consumed by pursuing her goals and it led to a major burnout. She ended up taking a gap year from her career and spent that time nannying three children.

And that’s how this book was born - through the lessons she learnt from those kids who reminded her what it was like to enjoy the child-like wander of the world once more (and how to apply it to adult and real-life situations).

For me, this book was an eye-opener to a new way of thinking. With easy-to-read, punchy chapters, packed full of wise quotes (it seems children are full of them), I was reminded that it’s okay not to be logical for a change; that’s it’s good to let your imagination take first place sometimes and to remain curious about the world around you.

It taught me that if something is fun, or exciting, you can shout about it without shame, jump around the living room with wild abandon and feel proud for what you’ve achieved.

And it also reminded me that it’s totally okay to spend a day wallowing in a pillow fort in front of the TV when it’s raining, your phone hidden in a drawer upstairs and a bucket of ice cream on your lap… even if there are things to do.

But it’s more poignant than that, too. Between the hilarious anecdotes of small children, there’s also a really important message about how, by applying child-like logic to tricky situations, we can simplify our problems and delve into the core issues.

And it’s that trick of opening ourselves up to a new way of thinking that allows us to wave goodbye to stress and forge forward with a new, simplified perspective.

So, if you need to slow down, swipe a copy of this book and start reading. Whether it’s a chapter or two on the bus to uni, or a cosy night in for a change, reconnect with your younger self and start appreciating the world again.

You can find it on Amazon here.

For articles, advice and more about student life and well-being on the Common Room, click here.

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When not stringing words together, can usually be found on the local beach with her cocker spaniel pup, Huey.