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11 Direct Ways To Reduce Stress

11 Direct Ways To Reduce Stress

In today’s hyper-competitive and busy world, where global urbanization and technology have become an integral part of our lives, we all lead incredibly stressful lives. Stress has become an unavoidable part of our daily routine and it keeps on building up for a variety of reasons, including never-ending bills, unemployment or unsatisfying jobs, finances, relationship issues, and a whole other set of problems we face daily.

It has become harder to buffer ourselves from the world, so we need to dial it back a notch and treat ourselves with some peace and quiet from time to time. In order for us to achieve that, we need to reorganize our lives, set priorities and not allow the days to merge into one another, filled merely with work and obligations.

When stress becomes overwhelming, it can impact our mood and our productivity, but most importantly, it can affect our physical and mental health. Not only can it weaken our immune system and cause anxiety, insomnia, high blood pressure, and muscle pain, but it can also lead to major illnesses such as depression and heart disease.

The good news is that it is manageable and can be reduced, or even relieved completely. There are steps you can take to reduce stress and alleviate even just a bit of the discomfort.

1. Enter the enchanting world of books

Feeling stressed out? Pick up your favorite book and leave reality and worries behind. Curling up with a good book can boost your mind and well-being. It is the most effective way to relax and overcome stress. Reading may also help you sleep better. Getting lost in a book before bedtime can calm your mind and prepare your body for a good night’s sleep.

Books can also help ease depression. So, if you’re feeling a little overwhelmed by your job or your everyday house chores, take that book, sit back in your most comfortable chair, and enter the world of magic. Read about the ancient Roman Empire, the myths and legends of the Greek gods, the stories about faraway lands and kingdoms of fantasy worlds, the classics that shaped the face of world literature – anything that lifts your spirits and makes you forget all about the source of your stress.

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2. Travel

The pace of the modern life is making it extremely difficult for us to switch off, so a little time away from home can serve as a therapy session and help unwind the mind. Travel somewhere you’ve never been before. Meet new cultures, explore new lands, and go see some ancient sights for the first time. Try new food, meet new people, and get out of your comfort zone.

However, if you have a favorite place you’ve been to, enjoyed a lot and would like to visit again, travel there. Why not? Familiarity with the place can bring tranquility and help you relax even more. After you’ve recharged your batteries on a vacation, you won’t be stressed out and everyday life will be much more fun than usual.

3. Go camping

Woman camping in forest

    If you’re not in a position to travel somewhere far, don’t worry. Find yourself a place near your home, where you can set up a camp and tune your senses to nature. Embrace the wilderness, light a camp fire, set up a barbecue, and enjoy all the colors of the natural world. Tune out of all the technological distractions and leave the digital world behind – it will still be there when you return home. The reception probably won’t be good anyway, so by turning everything off you rid yourself of the only thing you would be stressing over during camping.

    Unplugging from the tech world can be extremely pleasant, if you’re willing to try it. One of the best parts of being outdoors is the sound of nature. The chirping of the birds, the sound of the stream flowing, or the rustling of the leaves on the ground can all help you relax and connect with nature. Leaving a campsite for a brief walk in the woods, or by the nearest river or a lake, can also help you become one with nature and find your inner peace.

    4. Walk it off

    You can also effectively relieve yourself of stress by simply taking a walk through your neighborhood. When you’re filled with negative emotions, walking can be one of the best cures you can get. It can have a positive effect on your mood and mental health, and it can be a very powerful stress reducer. Taking your daily walks can lead to a much healthier life, since it reduces stress, helps with depression, and improves your mood. Take a leisurely stroll through the streets or go to the park.

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    As you walk, remember to look up. There’s a whole new world up there that you never seem to notice while rushing to go to work or talking to someone. Take a moment to admire a new building or a balcony somewhere high up that reminds you of a castle from your favorite movie. Visit a museum or a gallery and fall in love with a piece of art. Enjoy your time alone and seize every moment of it. You will feel better than ever.

    5. Play that funky music

    It comes as no surprise that music can reduce stress, right? There’s no doubt that listening to your favorite music can instantly put you in a great mood. This is because music has an impact both on the part of the brain controlling emotions and the part controlling blood pressure. Therefore, when your brain recognizes slow rhythms, your blood pressure slows down. It is believed that classical music is the most effective one when it comes to reducing stress levels, but you can achieve the same goal by simply listening to whatever appeals to you and soothes you the most.

    Put on some good music while reading and enjoy a whole new experience. Turn up the volume while doing your chores and make it all more fun and interesting. If you like listening to music while taking your daily walks, create a playlist on your phone, put headphones on, press play, and escape to the outside world.

    6. Indulge in physical activity

    Training at the gym

      Exercise doesn’t necessarily mean going to the gym and lifting a set of weights. Simply stretching your muscles in the morning or taking a walk can offer you immediate relief from stress. Walking to the nearest restaurant during a break at work can also do the trick. Physical activity is the best way to instantly get your body to release endorphins and positively affect your mood. Jogging outdoors can make you much happier than working out inside of a gym or your home, since nature and fresh air have a greater effect on your emotions. Adopting a few good habits will help you dramatically change your body over time, and it’s never too late to start.

      Listening to music during your workout can improve your mood and motivate you to exercise even harder. Once you get in the habit of being physically active, start incorporating more challenging exercises into your daily routine. You can always go for a run or a bicycle ride, or take aerobic classes or go swimming. The choice is yours – either way, it’s the healthiest thing you’ll ever do.

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      7. Meditate

      For thousands of years people have used meditation for different reasons. Nowadays, it is primarily used as a stress reliever, and an effective one at that. When you start meditating, the process immediately decreases blood pressure and the production of stress hormones, particularly if you combine it with calm music and relaxing essential oils, leaving you with far less stress and anxiety than you started with. The more you meditate, the less stressed you are.

      Meditation isn’t necessarily sitting in a particular way and adopting a special pose. You can actually do it anywhere quiet and any time you want. Yoga and meditation can improve the quality of your life by allowing you to simply pull the plug on the world around you and let your whole body relax. Try it at home or somewhere out in the open, and you will be absolutely amazed at how quickly you will be relieved of all the stress and negative energy inside you.

      8. Find a hobby

      Hobbies are also a great way to reduce stress. You can take anything you like and feel passionate about and make it your hobby. What could be more fun? Choose anything you’re interested in and start doing it in your free time. Your hobby could be reading books, or even writing one. Why not? If you’re a creative person, maybe you’ll end up writing for a living and become one of those rare lucky ones who do what they love and get paid for it.

      If you like painting, you can bring some canvas to life. If photography is your beloved, you can try and capture all the unforgettable moments with your family and friends and make some everlasting memories. You get the point. You can do pretty much anything that makes you happy and in the moment you start doing that, you will instantaneously feel better.

      9. Get a pet

      If you’ve ever owned a pet, you are already familiar with all the benefits pets come with. Not only is playing with them fun, but it can also improve your emotional, mental, and physical health. Apart from the fact that cuddling with a pet reduces overall stress levels, it can actually lower the risk of a heart attack and decrease blood pressure. Pets provide companionship, so say goodbye to the feeling of loneliness and embrace the joy and happiness they bring.

      Dogs in particular can best reduce stress and anxiety and become your most loyal friends since they are attuned to human’s emotions and can understand your feelings and emotional state. However, if you’re not a dog person, pretty much any pet you can have will elevate your levels of serotonin and dopamine and thus calm you both physically and emotionally. Caring for a pet will lift your spirits and fill you with joy, and you will receive all of the unconditional love you can get.

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      10. Connect with people

      Friends sitting together

        Another way to successfully beat stress is meeting with friends. Friends and loved ones are important to any healthy lifestyle. If you’re feeling a little overwhelmed and just can’t seem to shake it off, call your best friend or a member of your family and talk to them. The conversation with a close person will immediately make you feel better.

        Meet them for a drink or a walk through the park, go to the movies together or hit the dance floor. The list is endless. Friends are the best therapy there is and you will enjoy every moment with them no matter where you are. So pick up a phone, call your friend and see how everything is put to perspective once you hear a reassuring voice on the other end of the line.

        11. Laugh it off

        Nothing brings you back on track like a good old laughter. It is the most powerful antidote to stress and it brings joy into your life. Laughter can boost your energy, strengthen your immune system, and, since it lowers stress hormones and triggers the release of endorphins, it can fill you with happiness. Laughing brings people together and drives away all stress-related problems as if they never existed.

        It is absolutely the best medicine there is, and it will keep you both physically and emotionally healthy. Another important thing is that it’s contagious and leads to a longer life. So, don’t forget to smile today and the whole world will smile with you!

        We all manage stress differently and although it may seem sometimes as if the whole world is on your shoulders and the walls are closing in around you because of the immense feeling of anxiety, you need to simply take a deep breath and use some of the aforementioned tips to successfully shake off that feeling. Take control over stress and take care of yourself. Take charge of every stressful situation and deal with it with a smile on your face. Don’t forget to nurture yourself. Make time for fun and relaxation and head on the road to your stress-free mind palace. If you’re reading this, you’re already halfway there.

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        Vladimir Zivanovic

        CMO at MyCity-Web

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        Last Updated on July 17, 2019

        25 Best Self Improvement Books to Read No Matter How Old You Are

        25 Best Self Improvement Books to Read No Matter How Old You Are

        I remember the first time I got my hands on a self-improvement book. I was baffled. At that moment, I realized my fate was not set in stone. I could become my own drill master and coach. The books I read would set out the training course for me to overcome. All I had to do was listen to that voice that aspired to climb higher and higher.

        Every time I committed to a new challenge, I knew it was going to be outside of my comfort zone. But after enough iterations, I also knew it will not just be part of my repertoire, it will be part of me.

        Not all self-improvement books are made equal. Some help start you out on your journey, others give you a boost when you’ve achieved experience in certain areas.

        Here are the best ones that I recommend to read no matter how old you are:

        1. Whatcha Gonna Do with That Duck? And Other Provocations

        by Seth Godin

          This book is a masterpiece, and unlike most self-improvement books, this one targets an infinite array of areas in which you can, and ultimately must, improve.

          With its ruthless honesty and genuine inspiration, Godin makes you ponder the difficult questions you wouldn’t ever dare to ask yourself. The result is a completely new perspective of the world- a fresher, more vibrant perspective, packed with new and bold possibilities.

          If you need a friend who understands you, a boss that forces you to venture deep in your non-comfort zone, a wise guru that tells you what needs to be left behind and a sage that proclaims the coming of a new age, then look no further; you will find these shrewd voices all tied together in this magnificent book. Make sure to get this one.

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          2. Fooled by Randomness: The Hidden Role of Chance in Life and in the Markets

          by Nassim Nicholas Taleb

            Perhaps it is the fact that randomness played such a significant role in my years as a poker player that I find this book utterly important.

            We often attribute skill where there is only luck; we confuse correlation with causation and we underestimate the incredible effect small changes can have.

            This book gave me a perspective that I unfortunately rarely encounter in others: you can do everything right and still lose, or do everything wrong and still win. It is thus not about the outcome; it is about your actions that have lead you there.

            This important message is central to many of my decisions I make in my life. This book by Taleb helps you develop such a perspective so you will be able to live in a world one cannot fully understand, where the results are not always clear markers of performance and where chance seems to play games with our fates. Stop being fooled by randomness!

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            3. The 48 Laws of Power

            by Robert Greene

              I read this book in a time where I thought power was something I should attain. Power for power’s sake. And while I disagree with my former self on this point, the fact remains that power is very real, it forms the invisible scepter of all hierarchical relations around us.

              I still recommend this book. I believe it is important to know how people use power for their own benefit and what to do to protect yourself from certain abuses of power.

              Besides the fact that all stories in this book gravitate around power. It contains many life lessons, amazing historical anecdotes. If read in a certain light, the ability to use power for good.

              From Caesar to Goethe, Sun-Tzu to Machiavelli, this eye opening book spans a wide range of human development. If you, like me, would rather be interested in something less egotistical, perhaps Greene’s latest book Mastery will suffice (I haven’t read that one myself).

              Another great book in the same style, but this time around; covering a wider scope, and perhaps, something that will make the world make a better place.

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              4. The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People: Powerful Lessons in Personal Change

              by Stephen. R. Covey

                The title of this book doesn’t capture it all. Covey shares with us seven habits one should adapt to become truly effective in whatever you would like to achieve.

                Of course, it is not as easy as it sounds. He stresses the fact that we need to go through a paradigm shift – a fundamental change in how we perceive the world and ourselves.

                This book can be read as a guide, with practices and everything, to go through the stages in order to make such a shift happen. Part shock-therapy, part ageless spiritual wisdom, Covey’s book is packed with wisdom that actually makes a difference.

                And as I mentioned, don’t let the title of the book fool you; it is about much more than just becoming more effective. It is about becoming a whole integer person who not only seeks the best in oneself, but also in the people around her.

                A must read for anyone who feels there is always something left to learn.

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                5. The Psychedelic Explorer’s Guide: Safe, Therapeutic, and Sacred Journeys

                by James Fadiman

                  While finding a book on psychedelics in this list of books on self-improvement might come as a surprise, I believe any metaphysical distinction between tools such as books, meditation or molecules hold no ground. They should all be solely judged on their merits. And the merits of certain chemical keys, used in a constructive way, are perhaps bigger than any book in this list.

                  The Psychedelic Explorer’s Guide will teach you how to prepare yourself and your surroundings, what and how much to take, and what do do when something goes wrong. So you can safely enhance your thinking, creativity, introspection and emotional balance.

                  This book contains everything you need to know about using psychedelics as a tool for self-improvement while drawing on extensive scientific literature and personal wisdom. A must have for the beginning and experienced psychonaut alike.

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                  6.  Eat That Frog!: 21 Great Ways to Stop Procrastinating and Get More Done in Less Time

                  by Brian Tracy

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                    We all know how that destructive downward spiral feels.

                    We have to do some big tasks of which the thought alone triggers resistance. We aren’t sure how and where to begin and feeling overwhelmed before we even start. We get easily distracted to get rid of that feeling, only to suddenly realize that hours went by- precious hours- and then find ourselves in the same position as before, still not knowing where and how to begin, but now, feeling guilty on top of it which expresses itself in more craving for distraction.

                    Ad infinitum

                    To break this spell of procrastination before it paralyzes us, Tracy advises us to Eat That Frog: to set our priorities straight, deconstruct larger tasks into smaller ones, learn when to tackle the big frog first or to start out with something else.

                    Tracy is truly a motivational writer. While I wished he had gone a bit deeper into the psychological reasons why people procrastinate, it is still a must have for anyone who wants to break the spell and get shit done.

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                    7. Think and Grow Rich: The Original 1937 Unedited Edition

                    by Napoleon Hill

                      A from 1937, this book by Hill is a masterpiece. Don’t bother with the edited versions since they all omit important and controversial information: some historical, and some pertaining to the goal of the book, which is to think and grow rich.

                      The word rich might imply that this book is all about material gain, and while it certainly covers that area, it is about much more than that.

                      This is perhaps the first explicit mention of positive thinking on how to care not just about the cash in your pocket, but also the thoughts in your head.

                      This book has been able to withstand the destruction of time. It covers all the basics from planning, decision making and persistence, to the more advanced techniques as auto-suggestion, transmutation and what we can learn from fear.

                      This is not a grow rich book, but a timeless guide to find out what actually matters. As it says clearly in the beginning ‘Riches can’t always be measured in money!’

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                      8. The Attention Revolution: Unlocking the Power of the Focused Mind

                      by Alan Wallace

                        In a world that is dominated by ever stronger technologies designed to grab your attention, a way to empower yourself is to bring that attention back to where you want it to shine. This book offers just that.

                        In The Attention Revolution, Wallace describes the path to attaining Shamatha, a buddhist meditation state of mind that is free from any flickering of distraction. It is a hard and long path, probably not possible for us to reach in this lifetime. However, even getting to stage two or three will make everything in life easier.

                        A wonderful introduction to meditation, The Attention Revolution will inspire you to take on the challenge and see what training your mind can actually achieve.

                        Once you have achieved such level of focus, you can put it to use to open your heart with the practice of The Four Immeasurables or deepen the practice with this wonderful commentary by Dudjom Lingpa, both by Alan B. Wallace.

                        Before you read this book, you may want to take a look at this guide so you get a better idea on how to prioritize your life:

                        The Ultimate Guide to Prioritizing Your Work And Life

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                        9. The Paleo Manifesto: Ancient Wisdom for Lifelong Health

                        by John Durant

                          In the last 10,000 years or so, it seems we have been propelled into an ever faster paced world forged by our own hands and minds. Only recently have we been able to reconstruct our journey and reflect back upon our humble origins.

                          This amazing book is such a reflection. It goes back to the paleolithic searching for answers to health and longevity.

                          Between science and his personal experiments, Durant weaves a mind blowing story that will convey the importance of an evolutionary perspective on how to live well.

                          It covers everything from nutrition to exercise, from sleep to fasting, from ancient practices to modern biohacking and even has an outline for a vision of the future where depression and obesity have become obsolete.

                          If you only have room for a couple of books on this list, make sure this one is included.

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                          10. Mindsight: The New Science of Personal Transformation

                          by Daniel J. Siegel

                            As my Burmese meditation teacher often proclaimed, ‘Mindfulness alone is not enough!’ Siegel seems to have taken this to heart and made an unique synthesis between meditation, psychoanalysis and neuroscience which he calls ‘Mindsight‘. As he says himself, a potent combination between emotional and social intelligence.

                            All of us deal with one disorder or another, something that seems to disturb the very core of our being at ease; and while it might not always be the best strategy to want to get rid of it, it certainly helps to understand and have compassion for that little aspect that upsets that perfect image of ourselves.

                            Brimming with techniques, insights and epiphanies, this book contains everything you need to know to reprogram your brain and to optimally use its capacity of neuroplasticity. A great book for spiritual seekers and scientists alike.

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                            11. How to Win Friends & Influence People

                            by Dale Carnegie

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                              This is the first self-improvement book I have ever read and it is also probably one of the oldest in this category.

                              Written in 1937, mainly for the door to door salesman of that era, this book by Carnegie can truly be called a classic. It shows what we all intuitively know:

                              It doesn’t matter what your line of work is or what you want to achieve. If you are doing business of any kind, you need to make it about the other person.

                              Being nice helps, a lot. And while I might not fully defend the premise of this book because it doesn’t distinguish between genuine interest and faking it to get what you want; it still contains a treasure chest full of timeless wisdom.

                              Everybody wants to feel appreciated, and rightfully so. Learning to take a small effort to make someone’s day will make the world better no matter what your goal is.

                              I still spontaneously remember some of his guidance, and perhaps this quality is the reason why this book still draws millions of readers to this day.

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                              12. Feeling Good: The New Mood Therapy

                              by David D. Burns

                                Cognitive Behavioral Therapy is the most effective therapy used by psychologists today. It consists of identifying thought patterns that have a detrimental effect on your self-image and mood; and deconstructing these in order to break out of these destructive cycles.

                                If you want to know how this works, which moods are central in your life, what thought patterns are causing your depression, how to overcome self-judgment and guilt, how to defeat approval and love addiction and how your self-perfectionism is hindering you, then don’t look further.

                                Cognitive Behavioral Therapy has helped millions of people and it can help you, and this is the best book for the job. Packed with scientific research, exercises and examples, this is the best improvement your self is going to get.

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                                13. Psycho-Cybernetics, A New Way to Get More Living Out of Life

                                by Maxwell Maltz

                                  What can a plastic surgeon tell us about happiness?

                                  By dealing with his patients, Dr. Maxwell Maltz experienced firsthand that having your expectations come true doesn’t automatically result into a more positive life experience. Their outward appearances did indeed change but their inner insecurity remained.

                                  This caused him to find other means to help his patients, resulting in visualization techniques. He found a person’s outer success can never rise above the one visualized internally.

                                  This book carries a very honest and humbling story, loaded with fundamental truths about our psychology and how our own philosophy affects us. This is all told by a very compassionate writer.

                                  Of some books it can be said that it will be valuable for years to come, and I am absolutely positive that this is one of them.

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                                  14. Thinking, Fast and Slow

                                  by Daniel Kahneman

                                    This brilliant book by Nobel prize winner Daniel Kahneman is a lucid account of all the amazing research he has done over the years. He is the founder of behavioral economics – the way our psychology affects our decisions – and explains in simple prose how our thinking is divided in two systems: one fast and one slow. (Here’s an explanation on how these two systems work.)

                                    The fast one is almost instant; it consists of the hardwired instincts that govern emotions, a remnant of an evolutionary past, an unconscious irrational machine.

                                    The slow one is deliberate, self-reflexive and logical, but can easily be distracted and takes a lot of effort.

                                    Both play a large role in our lives and Kahneman explores when the fast system fails and why the slow system is often not utilized.

                                    Packed with mind blowing examples and sharp analyses, this book teaches you how to learn to make sound judgments, and use the best of both systems.

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                                    15. An Astronaut’s Guide to Life on Earth: What Going to Space Taught Me About Ingenuity, Determination, and Being Prepared for Anything

                                    by Chris Hadfield

                                      A few extraordinary people journey to the edge of our world and come back with a unique story to tell. Colonel Hadfield is such a person, and his story is perhaps the most important one in this list.

                                      While the other books in this list teach you to be independent, visualize your future and dream big, this astronaut’s guide turns these all upside down.

                                      A truly remarkable book, overflowing with mind-blowing stories that illustrate the life lessons he learned as one of the most accomplished astronauts that ever lived.

                                      Full of compassion, warmth and genuine self-reflexive humor, he conveys to us to be prepared for the worst and never let yourself be swayed from enjoying every moment.

                                      Part action story, part no-nonsense hard truth and part timeless spiritual wisdom, this book makes you feel like you stepped onto a rocket ship and experienced what he did while learning these most valuable lessons on the way.

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                                      16. Perfect Health Diet: Regain Health and Lose Weight by Eating the Way You Were Meant to Eat

                                      by Paul Jaminet & Shou-Ching Jaminet

                                        No self-improvement list is complete without a nutrition book and the Perfect Health Diet is arguably the best diet book on the market now.

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                                        If you are overweight or not, feel sick, or just looking for an extra boost in health (and keep it this way), then look no further.

                                        From reading decades of studies the authors construct the optimal way to eat, destroying popular food fads in the process. They explain in sufficient details the optimal macro-ratios of which starches are safe, which vitamins and supplements to take and what foods, or what they call toxins, to avoid.

                                        This book is a great supplement to the Paleo Manifesto as it shares its basic evolutionary perspective; we were evolved to eat non-toxic, high fat, moderate protein and carbohydrates.

                                        And sometimes, going around with no food at all, can be a very healthy thing. If your body is not in optimal health, then it is almost no use to read the other books. Make this your priority number one.

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                                        17. Failing Forward: Turning Mistakes into Stepping Stones for Success

                                        by John C. Maxwell

                                          At one time or another, we will all fail. What matters most is how you deal with it once you do.

                                          Will you give up? Or will you use it as a stepping stone for success?

                                          I recently read an article about new start-ups in silicon valley. Its hypothesis was the more you had failed in the past, the more likely you were going to get funding.

                                          Why?

                                          Because failing teaches you invaluable lessons, and if you decide to continue after you hit the pavement, the more you have it in you to deliver.

                                          Now, this is not in anyway our instinctual reaction to failing. Most of us dread it, avoid it or refuse to fail at all costs. All three are by far sub-optimal. It is far better to accept failure where it arises, to accept responsibility and use it as a way to learn about yourself and your weaknesses.

                                          Only when you are absolute honest with yourself with respect to failure can you hope to grow. This wonderful book will teach you how to do exactly this. A honest book for everyone searching for a clean mirror.

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                                          18. The Power of Now

                                          by Eckhart Tolle

                                            The Power of Now hardly needs any introduction. It is perhaps the book that has had the most impact on our collective consciousness in recent years.

                                            It inspired millions of people all over the world to live a more fulfilling and compassionate life, all through the practice of mindfulness. Mindfulness consists of moment to moment non-judgmental awareness. 

                                            It is a technique that alleviates depression, increases emotional intelligence and develops compassion. And only recently has come to the west, which remained weary and skeptical until science had validated a wide array of its claims.

                                            The brain can be trained. The Power of Now teaches you how to release your attachment to certain thoughts and states of mind, thereby clearing the mind to fully embrace the present moment.

                                            If you already have read this book and are looking for deeper understanding, readWherever You Go, There You Are.

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                                            19. The Last Lecture

                                            by Randy Pausch

                                              At some point or another, almost all of us has come across The Last Lecture by Randy Pausch. (If you haven’t, watch this powerful message here.)

                                              What would you say when you only have a few months left to live? This was probably Pausch’s question he posed to himself when he had to deliver his lecture a week later.

                                              But being confined to an academic setting and short time frame, he felt he had more to share, thus marking the birth of this book.

                                              Filled with stories about his childhood, it is a very down to earth exploration of what it means to chase your dreams, to be a good person and live a life that gives value to others.

                                              A beautiful mixture of humor and optimism, his tender voice will be a source of inspiration for everyone who will take the time to listen, something he tried to impart on his readers.

                                              A very lovely read. And don’t forget, ‘It’s not about the cards you’re dealt, but how you play the hand.’
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                                              20. Daring Greatly: How the Courage to Be Vulnerable Transforms the Way We Live, Love, Parent, and Lead

                                              by Brené Brown

                                                I love Brené Brown’s books. She writes about an insight that I have found to be scary but true at the same time.

                                                Vulnerability, unlike we have been taught, is not a weakness, but a power to be tapped. Growing up with the idea that we have to hide certain parts of ourselves, to look strong and persevere at all costs always seemed a facade to me. And now she has the research to back that up.

                                                From that place of vulnerability comes a sense of worthiness, which for most of us, needs to be cultivated every day. Only if we get in touch with that tender spot of our hearts can we connect with others and develop genuine compassion, which are prerequisites, Brown tells us, for living a ‘wholehearted life.’

                                                The reality, however, is that we often close down, feel neglected and misunderstood, and rather want the vulnerability and perhaps even ourselves to disappear.

                                                This book is an amazing antidote for that common instinct. Want to be truly convinced? Check out her amazing ted talk here.

                                                Print | eBook | Audiobook

                                                21. The Demon-Haunted World: Science as a Candle in the Dark

                                                by Carl Sagan

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                                                  We all find UFO’s fascinating. We all really want to believe in magic or visiting aliens. (Surely the crop circles are conclusive proof!) And some of us believe the government is poisoning us with chemtrails.

                                                  At the same time we are fascinated by the progress made by science, by all the new technology and medicines and the fascinating discoveries being

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                                                  22. Philosophy for Life

                                                  by Jules Evans

                                                    As philosopher Sloterdijk puts it; ‘philosophy is a beautiful child of an ugly mother.’

                                                    Philosophy first arose when the old Greek polis states were at the brink of destruction. Philosophy, according to Sloterdijk, was not just a way to make sense of the world, to come to knowledge or truth, but to serve as a psychological immune system.

                                                    This book is an amazing expression of this perspective. From the stoics to Cognitive Behavioral Therapy, Jules Evans writes about some of the amazing philosophical techniques we can use to train and improve our cognitive immune systems.

                                                    He weaves ancient stories with modern applications, from heroism to cosmic contemplation. Philosophy for Life is a beautifully written book that makes it easy to understand the practical nature of philosophy.

                                                    Perhaps the book would have been better if he would have gone deeper into the subject matter, but nonetheless he captures the essence of what philosophy can mean for the modern person. A must read.

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                                                    23. Man’s Search For Meaning

                                                    by Victor. E. Frankl

                                                      If I had to pick one book from this list for mandatory reading, I would choose this one.

                                                      For three years, Viktor Frankl labored in four different Nazi concentration camps, including Auschwitz. He tells us about his experience and that of his fellow prisoners.

                                                      Both chilling and uplifting, confronted with the idea that they would be trapped there for the rest of their lives; he gives us an account of those who found meaning and those who succumbed to nihilism.

                                                      A blend between a memoir, a psychological investigation and a self-help book, Frankl delivers a powerful message:

                                                      Finding meaning lies at the core of being human.

                                                      From his own experience as a psychiatrist, combined with anecdotes from his time in the concentration camps, he tells us how important it is to find meaning in our own lives and what we can become if we don’t.

                                                      Suffering, he conveys to us, is inevitable. But as to how we cope with it is dependent on ourselves. If we can find meaning, even in the worst acts our species have ever inflicted upon their fellow men, we will be able to move forward with renewed purpose.

                                                      I also recommend you to check out this article to help you find out your purpose and passion that will motivate you to live in a meaningful way: How to Get Motivated and Be Happy Every Day When You Wake Up

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                                                      24. Simplify

                                                      by Joshua Becker

                                                        This is a fun little book written by Joshua Becker, a big proponent of minimalist living. We all know that quote from Fightclub: “Advertising has us chasing cars and clothes, working jobs we hate so we can buy shit we don’t need.” 

                                                        Well, this is ending.

                                                        Slowly we are outgrowing an era where the unquestioned mantra ‘more is always better’ dictates our behavior. Rather, we now find ourselves, our lives and our homes cluttered with too much information, too much stuff and just too much shit we don’t need.

                                                        This simple book helps you become aware of the freedom gained from living with less. It is a small book, easily read under an hour, but it carries a persuasive punch to start living live in a very different way.

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                                                        25. Love Yourself Like Your Life Depends On It

                                                        by Kamal Ravikant

                                                          The fundamental ground upon which all true self improvement is build is called self-love. Because in the end, no matter which way you turn, if you don’t love yourself, you will sabotage yourself at one point. You will think that, for some reason or another, you are not worthy. And if you think that, why would you truly want to achieve anything?

                                                          And this is not just about achievement. This is about how you approach yourself every day; this is what you see when you look in the mirror.

                                                          We make so many snap-judgments about ourselves- often without being conscious of them- that are filled with negativity, haltering us before we can even begin to heal. This powerful book shows you the antidote.

                                                          Self love. Not to be confused with creating some narcissistic image of ourselves that some previous books in this list implicitly endorse, but self love, that inner gratefulness that no external condition can take away.

                                                          Self love, that infinite source you can share with others.

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                                                          Final Thoughts

                                                          Now that you’ve got a list of the most inspirational books to improve your life, what should you do next? Read them all?

                                                          It’s of course best to read them all, but we only have so much brain energy to take all this knowledge. What if I tell you there’s a way to boost your brain power? Here it is:

                                                          How to Increase Brain Power, Boost Memory and Become 10X Smarter

                                                          More Books for Your Inspiration

                                                          Featured photo credit: Unsplash via unsplash.com

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