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11 Free Life-Changing Books and Essays in the Public Domain

11 Free Life-Changing Books and Essays in the Public Domain

Most of these life-changing books were written over 100 years ago, but their wisdom is as relevant today as it was when they were written.

Best of all — they’re FREE!

Many are available online or for download at:

http://consciouslivingfoundation.org/

http://www.goodreads.com/list/tag/public-domain

Free audio books are available at www.librivox.org.

Enjoy!

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1. Wallace D. Wattles, The Science of Getting Rich

As Wallace Wattles says himself in the introduction:

This book is pragmatical, not philosophical; a practical manual, not a treatise upon theories. It is intended for the men and women whose most pressing need is for money; who wish to get rich first, and philosophize afterward. 

He applies the same refreshing, straightforward approach to the other two books in his trilogy, The Science of Being Well and The Science of Being Great.

2. James Allen, As a Man Thinketh

Mr. Allen reminds us in a beautiful and inspiring way that we have the power to change our lives.

He who has conquered doubt and fear has conquered failure. His every thought is allied with power and all difficulties are bravely met and wisely overcome. Thought allied fearlessly to purpose becomes creative force. 

3. William James, The Varieties of Religious Experience

Visually, these life-changing lectures make for dense reading, but they sound absolutely gorgeous. If you can, read them as audio books.

Were one asked to characterize the life of religion in the broadest and most general terms possible, one might say that it consists of the belief that there is an unseen order, and our supreme good lies in harmoniously adjusting ourselves thereto.

4. Ralph Waldo Emerson, The Essential Writings of Ralph Waldo Emerson

Simultaneously uplifting and challenging!

To be yourself in a world that is constantly trying to make you something else is the greatest accomplishment.

5. Henry David Thoreau, Walden & Civil Disobedience

Thoreau didn’t have much use for “business as usual”.

All voting is a sort of gaming, like checkers or backgammon, with a slight moral tinge to it, a playing with right and wrong, with moral questions; and betting naturally accompanies it.

There are nine hundred and ninety-nine patrons of virtue to one virtuous man.

6. Frédéric Bastiat, Essays on Political Economy

These essays can be summed up in one word: Feisty!

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 The state is that great fiction by which everyone tries to live at the expense of everyone else.

7. Herman Hesse, Siddhartha

Still one of the most beautiful, uplifting books ever written.

We are not going in circles, we are going upwards. The path is a spiral; we have already climbed many steps.

8. Adam Smith, The Wealth of Nations

The definitive text on mercantilism, and the first book to ever explore wealth instead of poverty.

It is not from the benevolence of the butcher, the brewer, or the baker that we expect our dinner, but from their regard to their own self-interest. We address ourselves not to their humanity but to their self-love, and never talk to them of our own necessities, but of their advantages.

9. Sun Tzu, The Art of War

This book of mind-bending, koan-like sayings is as much about winning at life as about winning at war.

Victorious warriors win first and then go to war, while defeated warriors go to war first and then seek to win. 

10. Kahlil Gibran, The Prophet

Heartachingly beautiful and inspiring.

And forget not that the earth delights to feel your bare feet and the winds long to play with your hair.

11. Napoleon Hill, Think and Grow Rich

Get off your butt and go succeed!

If you give up before your goal has been reached, you are a “quitter.” A QUITTER NEVER WINS AND A WINNER NEVER QUITS. Lift this sentence out, write it on a piece of paper in letters an inch high, and place it where you will see it every night before you go to sleep, and every morning before you go to work.

Featured photo credit: Forge Yourself / Celestine Chua via flickr.com

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Last Updated on August 6, 2020

6 Reasons Why You Should Think Before You Speak

6 Reasons Why You Should Think Before You Speak

We’ve all done it. That moment when a series of words slithers from your mouth and the instant regret manifests through blushing and profuse apologies. If you could just think before you speak! It doesn’t have to be like this, and with a bit of practice, it’s actually quite easy to prevent.

“Think twice before you speak, because your words and influence will plant the seed of either success or failure in the mind of another.” – Napolean Hill

Are we speaking the same language?

My mum recently left me a note thanking me for looking after her dog. She’d signed it with “LOL.” In my world, this means “laugh out loud,” and in her world it means “lots of love.” My kids tell me things are “sick” when they’re good, and ”manck” when they’re bad (when I say “bad,” I don’t mean good!). It’s amazing that we manage to communicate at all.

When speaking, we tend to color our language with words and phrases that have become personal to us, things we’ve picked up from our friends, families and even memes from the internet. These colloquialisms become normal, and we expect the listener (or reader) to understand “what we mean.” If you really want the listener to understand your meaning, try to use words and phrases that they might use.

Am I being lazy?

When you’ve been in a relationship for a while, a strange metamorphosis takes place. People tend to become lazier in the way that they communicate with each other, with less thought for the feelings of their partner. There’s no malice intended; we just reach a “comfort zone” and know that our partners “know what we mean.”

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Here’s an exchange from Psychology Today to demonstrate what I mean:

Early in the relationship:

“Honey, I don’t want you to take this wrong, but I’m noticing that your hair is getting a little thin on top. I know guys are sensitive about losing their hair, but I don’t want someone else to embarrass you without your expecting it.”

When the relationship is established:

“Did you know that you’re losing a lot of hair on the back of your head? You’re combing it funny and it doesn’t help. Wear a baseball cap or something if you feel weird about it. Lots of guys get thin on top. It’s no big deal.”

It’s pretty clear which of these statements is more empathetic and more likely to be received well. Recognizing when we do this can be tricky, but with a little practice it becomes easy.

Have I actually got anything to say?

When I was a kid, my gran used to say to me that if I didn’t have anything good to say, I shouldn’t say anything at all. My gran couldn’t stand gossip, so this makes total sense, but you can take this statement a little further and modify it: “If you don’t have anything to say, then don’t say anything at all.”

A lot of the time, people speak to fill “uncomfortable silences,” or because they believe that saying something, anything, is better than staying quiet. It can even be a cause of anxiety for some people.

When somebody else is speaking, listen. Don’t wait to speak. Listen. Actually hear what that person is saying, think about it, and respond if necessary.

Am I painting an accurate picture?

One of the most common forms of miscommunication is the lack of a “referential index,” a type of generalization that fails to refer to specific nouns. As an example, look at these two simple phrases: “Can you pass me that?” and “Pass me that thing over there!”. How often have you said something similar?

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How is the listener supposed to know what you mean? The person that you’re talking to will start to fill in the gaps with something that may very well be completely different to what you mean. You’re thinking “pass me the salt,” but you get passed the pepper. This can be infuriating for the listener, and more importantly, can create a lack of understanding and ultimately produce conflict.

Before you speak, try to label people, places and objects in a way that it is easy for any listeners to understand.

What words am I using?

It’s well known that our use of nouns and verbs (or lack of them) gives an insight into where we grew up, our education, our thoughts and our feelings.

Less well known is that the use of pronouns offers a critical insight into how we emotionally code our sentences. James Pennebaker’s research in the 1990’s concluded that function words are important keys to someone’s psychological state and reveal much more than content words do.

Starting a sentence with “I think…” demonstrates self-focus rather than empathy with the speaker, whereas asking the speaker to elaborate or quantify what they’re saying clearly shows that you’re listening and have respect even if you disagree.

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Is the map really the territory?

Before speaking, we sometimes construct a scenario that makes us act in a way that isn’t necessarily reflective of the actual situation.

A while ago, John promised to help me out in a big way with a project that I was working on. After an initial meeting and some big promises, we put together a plan and set off on its execution. A week or so went by, and I tried to get a hold of John to see how things were going. After voice mails and emails with no reply and general silence, I tried again a week later and still got no response.

I was frustrated and started to get more than a bit vexed. The project obviously meant more to me than it did to him, and I started to construct all manner of crazy scenarios. I finally got through to John and immediately started a mild rant about making promises you can’t keep. He stopped me in my tracks with the news that his brother had died. If I’d have just thought before I spoke…

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