13 books that helped me become an energy powerhouse

Do you find yourself wishing you had more energy? Are the coffees or sugary snacks not doing it for you? Maybe you’re even working out a few times a week and that’s still not giving you the energy you need.

I felt that way for years. When I worked 40-60 hours a week in an office with a two hour commute, I was constantly “managing” my energy. I woke up with an alarm, hit snooze multiple times, went straight to coffee, had more coffee at work, then had some sugar or more coffee in the afternoon (or both) to get me through the day. If I was lucky I’d squeeze in a workout during lunch or after work once or maybe twice a week.

Not to mention I’d go through a variety of playlists from K-pop to Christmas (don’t judge) in attempts to pep myself. All that got me through the day, but then I needed 1-3 glasses of wine to bring me down so I could go to sleep and do it all over again.


(old me)

Living in a constant cycle of managing uppers and downers is no way to live.

But I have good news… there is another way!

Today, I wake up naturally between 7 and 8, I hardly ever drink caffeine, and I rarely drink alcohol or eat sugar (except for special occasions). I work out 5-6 times a week and work up to 16 hours a day if I need to (like when I’m on set for 12 hours straight) and even then, I don’t need uppers or downers to get me through (like the old me, in the image to the left).

You might be thinking, well that’s it, that’s how she has so much energy. She doesn’t eat sugar or drink coffee… she must get all her energy from kale. I do eat a lot of kale. But none of those things are the secret to how I have so much energy. In fact, it’s because I have so much energy that I don’t need coffee or sugar to get me through the day anymore, not the reverse.

So what changed besides the lack of uppers and downers?

I finally figured out the biggest thing weighing me down was my mind.




(new me)

Most of us have 1,000 pounds of junk weighing down at least 80% of our brains right now. Clearing out that junk was the fastest way for me to get more energy – immediately. Because then I don’t need all those uppers and downers anymore. When it’s clear, my mind has all the energy it needs to be a creative powerhouse.

How did I clear 1,00 pounds of junk from my brain? Reading.

Instead of letting my mind be full of junk I absorbed from colleagues, the news, classmates, teachers, social media and even well-intentioned family and friends, I strategically chose who or what would fill my brain. The clarity and courage I learned from reading helped me clear the baggage from my mind, making room for the creative powerhouse to be unleashed.

I’ve compiled a list of 13 books that helped me become an energy powerhouse. I’ve listed them in the order I read them. These authors did countless hours of research, writing and editing to cull their ideas down to the essence we need to understand their research and apply it to our lives. I hope these books are helpful for you.



Enjoy and let me know how it goes!





The 4-Hour Workweek: Escape 9-5, Live Anywhere, and Join the New Rich
by Tim Ferriss
OR How to Stop Wasting Time at Work

This book will give you a jump start on the practical ways you can find more time in your day. This is quite helpful because you can use your newfound time to read all of the books below, which are more about gaining energy than hours in the day. Much of Tim’s advice is quite specific to his experiments in traditional offices but there’s no reason you can’t apply it to your life. I don’t fully endorse every experiment he suggests, so decide for yourself what feels right for you.


Daring Greatly: How the Courage to Be Vulnerable Transforms the Way We Live, Love, Parent, and Lead
by Brene Brown
OR How to Avoid the Energy Suck Called Shame

If you haven’t read anything by Brené Brown, this is a great place to start. This is where I first learned that listening to the shame monster, whether coming from inside me or another person, significantly weighs me down. Ignoring shame gives me a massive energy boost.



The Magic of Thinking Big
by David Schwartz
OR How to Keep Small Minded People From Stealing Your Energy

An oldie but a goodie. This is a fantastic introduction into how negative thoughts not only weigh you down, they also hold you back. I’d suggest reading this early on in your path to gaining more energy because it will help you see how people who think small and try to get you to think small with them will steal your energy.



Super Rich: A Guide to Having It All
by Russell Simmons
OR How Focusing on Meaning Instead of Financial Success Will Bring You Peace AND Energy

I thought this book was going to be about how to get financially rich because the author is a billionaire media-mogul. I was wrong. The book was mainly about how being truly rich has a lot more to do with filling your life with meaningful work than chasing dollar bills. This book helped me remove energy wasters like worrying about being “successful” based on typical standards like awards and money. He also talks in length about meditation and I whole-heartedly agree having a clear mind gives you more energy.


Rising Strong: The Reckoning. The Rumble. The Revolution
by Brene Brown
OR How to Avoid the Energy Suck Called Shame, Even When You’re Down

After you’ve read Daring Greatly, you’re ready for the sequel. This book further enforced what I learned from the first and was nice to read it months later to be reminded of how cutting shame out of my life gives me more energy. I also read it after my total breakdown/spiritual awakening (stealing that phrase from Brené) so I appreciated the ‘getting back up’ pep talk.


Big Magic: Creative Living Beyond Fear
by Elizabeth Gilbert
OR How Listening to People Who Say You’re Too (Blank) to do (Blank) is Robbing You of Creative Energy

To me, this is the book of permission. Elizabeth Gilbert gives us permission to be our true creative selves, and that means everyone because we are all creative, including YOU. She talks about how we have permission to be creative, even if we aren’t going to be the best in the world (reinforcing Russell Simmons’ theories). This book gave me permission to pursue acting (thank you Elizabeth!) and delete the lies like, “You’re too old” or “You’ll never make it” which often take up too much space in my brain and steal my energy.


The Gifts of Imperfection: Let Go of Who You Think You’re Supposed to Be and Embrace Who You Are
by Brené Brown
OR How Giving up Perfectionism Gives You More Energy Than You Thought Possible

Again, can’t go wrong with Brené. In this book I found out how my perfectionism SERIOUSLY slowed me down. I ditched it then and haven’t looked back. I can also credit Tim Ferriss (Four Hour Work Week) with freeing me up from time wasters as well, because he talks about the tried and true entrepreneurial rule of getting your first version out there and refining as you go. To me, that’s the same thing as letting go of perfection.


Year of Yes: How to Dance It Out, Stand In the Sun and Be Your Own Person
by Shonda Rhimes
OR How Saying No to Fear Changes EVERYTHING

While Shonda discusses in length where saying ‘yes’ lead her, she also explains how her initial ‘no’ usually came from a place of fear. Analyzing then removing similar fears from my own brain has been the biggest energy boost I’ve had yet. This book also taught me how to not feel bad about saying ‘no’ to the energy suckers and saying ‘yes’ to the things that give me energy.


The Happiness Project (Revised Edition): Or, Why I Spent a Year Trying to Sing in the Morning, Clean My Closets, Fight Right, Read Aristotle, and Generally Have More Fun
by Gretchen Rubin
OR How to Trade Happiness (Read: Energy) Sucks For Happiness (Energy) Boosters

In this book Gretchen tries a new habit every month to make herself happier, which I think has a lot to do with having more energy. She started cutting out things that took energy away from her and adding things that gave her energy, or made her happier. I feel like I learned the most from her explaining how she got to her conclusions because even if her truth wouldn’t be true for me, I use her reasoning to figure out what gives me energy.


Happier at Home: Kiss More, Jump More, Abandon Self-Control, and My Other Experiments in Everyday Life
by Gretchen Rubin
OR How to Find More Happiness (Read:Energy) At Home

A follow up book to Gretchen’s book above, this one focuses solely on the home. Along with Gifts of Imperfection, this book inspires me to not try to be perfect at home. We recently moved and have been quite intentional in choosing a home that gives us energy. From the location to furniture selection to how we maintain it, all choices are made to make it a place that gives us energy (and I’m happy to report it’s working!).


You Are a Badass: How to Stop Doubting Your Greatness and Start Living an Awesome Life
by Jen Sincero
OR A Short Summary of Ways to Find Your Inner Badass (Read: Energy God/dess)

I don’t know if I would recommend this book or not. I feel like what Jen talks about here is included in ALL the other books. So by the time I read this I had already heard all the ideas she introduced. So perhaps you could take the shortcut and ONLY read this book but I wouldn’t recommend it because the other books are much better. Maybe if you’re done with all of these and still need to read something, use this as a nice reminder.


MONEY Master the Game: 7 Simple Steps to Financial Freedom
by Tony Robbins
OR How Changing Your Relationship to Money is an Energy Gamechanger

Ok, perhaps you’re thinking, how can a money book give me more energy? It’s only going to make me worry about all the investing I’m NOT doing! What’s amazing about this book is you get Tony’s curated advice he’s collected from the richest money masters in the world, while he’s also giving you ALL of his INCREDIBLE Tony Robbins advice for which he’s famous. He’ll also introduce limiting beliefs, which changed my life like nothing else.


The Power of Vulnerability: Teachings on Authenticity, Connection and Courage
by Brené Brown
OR How Listening to Brene Brown Again Reminds You How Great You’re Doing

If you’ve read all of Brené’s books up to this point and put it into daily practice, you are now living a whole-hearted life like never before. So at this point, this book is a wonderful reminder about her core concepts and it just makes you feel good to know you’re doing pretty great.


Maybe you’re wondering, why is Sarah telling me to clear my brain by putting more stuff in my brain? Stuff is what we get from the relentless influx of emails, Facebook updates, and sound bytes of news. These books have knowledge: actionable ideas to keep you focused, much-needed permission to be your creative self, and research that makes you realize how connected we are to each other. Becoming a powerhouse doesn’t come from being empty, but from filling our lives with brilliant, courageous, creative ways to be our best selves.



PS – I’ve read these books multiple times and frequently reference them. If you purchase one of these titles on Amazon by following the links, I receive a small percentage of the sales price as a member of their affiliate program, which supports my work as an artist and filmmaker (thank you!).

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