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20 Brilliant Self-Help Books You Need To Read

20 Brilliant Self-Help Books You Need To Read

Self-help books can be the key that opens your whole world up to new possibilities. These books can teach us a new skill or open our mind.

Feel like you don’t have time for these types of books? Set a goal to read one a month, or join a book club that focuses on reading and discussing self-help books. Or better yet, start your own book club and choose from this list to get started.

Listening to audiobooks is a great way to quickly and easily get through books you don’t think you have time to read. Listen during your daily commute or while out for a walk.

1. Mindset by Carol Dweck

Mindset by Carol Dweck

    Carol Dweck, the author of mindset, will open your eyes to new possibilities. Do you believe you were born with a certain talent or level of intelligence? Carol’s research shows that a shift in mindset from fixed to growth can open us up to a whole new world of opportunities. Do you recall when it was believed a human couldn’t run faster than a 4-minute mile? This was a fixed mindset. A lot of people held this belief. But at least one person did not, and they were able to break through that 4-minute barrier. Once it was done, many runners were able to beat the 4-minute mile. Why? Because they now believed it was possible. They had changed to a growth mindset. In this book, Carol shows leads us through the differences of a growth vs. fixed mindset. Her research is backed by many fascinating studies, which show how sports figures, kids, and more are impacted by their mindset. Open up the door when you read this book, and start changing your fixed mindsets to growth.

    2. The 5 Love Languages by Gary Chapman

    The 5 Love Languages

      Understanding The 5 Love Languages that Gary Chapman outlines will significantly aid you in your relationships. Do you sometimes feel that no matter what gift you get for your Mom or husband it is never the right one? Once you understand what their love language, is you can easily choose gifts that make them happy. Most likely, your spouse perceives love in a different way than you do. Yet we tend to show our love in the way we want to receive it. This means we rarely make our spouses feel as loved as they would like. This is because we don’t know their love language. Once you know the love language or your spouse or any other person, it is easier to appreciate them in a way that they can perceive and accept. The 5 Love Languages will explain to you what they are, and how to better appreciate others. You can also go to his website to take a quick quiz to learn your own love language. I highly recommend doing this!

      3. Lean In by Sheryl Sandberg

      Lean In by Sheryl Sandberg

        Lean In is a great book for women in the workforce. It’s a good book for men to read as well, especially those who work for, with and under women so…everyone basically. While you may not agree with everything the author says (I certainly don’t), there is a lot to learn here.

        I think Sheryl Sandberg does a good job getting women to rethink how they approach their career, especially in the years leading up to starting a family.

        She also illustrates the importance of leading with how you can help colleagues before asking them to do something for you. This is great advice, and results in better working relationships for everyone.

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         4. Wisdom Of The Ages by Wayne Dyer

         

        Wisdom Of The Ages

          Wayne Dyer explores writings, poems and sayings of some of our greatest thinkers in Wisdom of The Ages. He helps us see how we can apply these enlightened thoughts to our own lives.

          Often, ancient wisdom is as relevant today as it was back when it was first conceived. Dyer helps us find practical applications for these wise thoughts.

          5. The Happiness Project by Gretchen Rubin

          The Happiness Project

            In The Happiness Project, Gretchen Rubin sets out to determine if you can become happier through deliberate intent. She creates a plan and tackles different aspects of her life each month.

            What I think is great about this book is the way she approaches her theory. She lays out her journey as it happens, and you get to discover, along with her, that making a deliberate effort can bring more happiness and positive changes about in your life.

            6. Start With Why by Simon Sinek

            Start With Why

              Start With Why is geared toward leaders and companies, and shows the value of passion of purpose in your day-to-day life. This book and Sinek’s TED talk are worthwhile for all people wanting a full, passion-filled life.

              7. The 4 Hour Workweek by Timothy Ferris

              The 4 Hour Work Week
                The 4-Hour Work Week

                is a brilliant self-help book because it will make you think differently about your work. The concepts Timothy Ferriss outlines will be new to many who work a regular 9-5 job.

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                8. Rich Dad, Poor Dad by Robert Kiyosaki

                Rich Dad Poor Dad

                  Most educational programs lack a solid financial foundation. In Robert Kiyosaki’s Rich Dad Poor Dad, he outlines how he received his financial education from his best friend’s father. This is an easy to read book that just might make you think a bit differently about what it takes to build wealth.

                  9. How To Win Friends and Influence People by Dale Carnegie

                  How To Win Friends & Influence People

                    How To Win Friends & Influence People is the classic self-help book that everyone should read. This book will help you in learning to relate to and deal with others. The book focuses primarily on influence for business purposes. However, there are lessons to be learned and used in your personal life as well.

                    10. Awaken The Giant Within by Anthony Robbins

                    Awaken The Giant Within

                      Awaken The Giant Within has been a popular read (and re-read) of many since it’s publication 22 years ago. So many self-help books don’t stand the test of time, but this one does. Read to learn how to take better control over your life and reach your dreams.

                      11. You Can Heal Your Life by Louse Hay

                      You Can Heal Your Life

                        So often we think we are the victim of illness, disease and whatever health conditions we face. Louise Hay teaches us that we can heal our lives by changing our thoughts and doing the mental work we need.

                        Louise underwent some terrible circumstances in her life, and shares these and how she was able to turn her thoughts and her illnesses around. If you want to improve your health, this is a great read to open your mind to the possibilities of how our thinking (often as related to our past) is affecting us, and may be contributing or causing the health concerns we face.

                        What do you have to lose? Turning your thoughts around will not only make you happier, it can heal your life.

                        12. Dying To Be Me by Anita Moorjani

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                        Dying To Be Me

                          Dying To Be Me is one woman’s story of an amazing experience she had while doctor’s predicted she had only a day to live. The story is miraculous, but the message she received and relates to us is even more profound.

                          Anita Moorjani fully recovered from cancer. There are testaments by specialists that she should not have lived, but she returned and has a message to share. I’ve seen this woman speak live and listened to this book. Both were profound experiences, and I hope you get as much from her insight as I have.

                          13. Who Moved My Cheese by Spencer Johnson, M.D.

                          Who Moved My Cheese

                            Change happens to all of us, and it seems to happen faster now than ever before. This short book helps you find the tools to better deal with change. A must-read for today’s busy world.

                            14. QBQ! The Question Behind The Question by John G. Miller

                            QBQ! The Question Behind The Question

                              QBQ helps us get past the complaining and blame game. Asking The Question Behind The Question, we can more quickly resolve a situation. This book is short and simple, but will change the way you approach an issue.

                              15. Boundaries: When To Say Yes, How To Say No To Take Control Of Your Life by Dr. Henry Cloud and Dr. John Townsend

                              Boundaries

                                Many of us struggle with boundaries in some aspect of our life. It could be we can’t say no to our kids, spouse, friends, boss, or even yourself. This book helps you understand that it is OK – and even good – to have boundaries in your life.

                                This book is Christian-based, but it is still a good read for everyone. So many struggle with being burnt out by the abundance of expectations and commitments that surround their everyday life. Learning to set set boundaries can make you happier and avoid burnout.

                                16. The Secret by Rhonda Dyrne

                                The Secret

                                  The Secret will help give you the mental makeover you need to create the life you desire.

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                                  17. Influence: The Psychology of Persuasion by Robert B. Cialdani, Ph.D.

                                  Influence
                                    Influence

                                    takes a scientific look at persuasion. This is a brilliant self-help book that allows you to understand how you are being influenced every day by others. You can also learn how to use this information to influence others yourself. You might just finally understand how to get that raise you’ve been wanting.

                                    18. The Definitive Book Of Body Language by Barbara Pease and Allan Pease

                                    The Definitive Book of Body Language

                                       

                                      Much of our language is silent; it happens through our bodies. Often we don’t even realize what we are communicating or know how to interpret the signals we are getting from others. The Definitive Book of Body Language will open your mind to a whole new world of communication that is happening right before your eyes.

                                      19. The War of Art: Break Through The Blocks and Wind Your Inner Creative Battles by Steven Pressfield

                                      The War of Art

                                        The War Of Art teaches us how to beat back the inner critic that is keeping us from unleashing our creativity.

                                        20. Lead With Your Heart: Creating A Life of Love, Compassion and Purpose by Regina Cates

                                        Lead With Your Heart

                                          Success can be meaningless if you’ve lost your purpose. In Lead With Your Heart, Regina Cates helps us reconnect and build and successful and meaningful life.

                                          Did I miss your favorite self-help book in this list? If so, please let me know what your favorite is in the comments below.

                                          Featured photo credit: Julien Sanine via flickr.com

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                                          Last Updated on October 22, 2020

                                          8 Simple Ways to Be a Better Listener

                                          8 Simple Ways to Be a Better Listener

                                          How would you feel if you were sharing a personal story and noticed that the person to whom you were speaking wasn’t really listening? You probably wouldn’t be too thrilled.

                                          Unfortunately, that is the case for many people. Most individuals are not good listeners. They are good pretenders. The thing is, true listening requires work—more work than people are willing to invest. Quality conversation is about “give and take.” Most people, however, want to just give—their words, that is. Being on the receiving end as the listener may seem boring, but it’s essential.

                                          When you are attending to someone and paying attention to what they’re saying, it’s a sign of caring and respect. The hitch is that attending requires an act of will, which sometimes goes against what our minds naturally do—roaming around aimlessly and thinking about whatnot, instead of listening—the greatest act of thoughtfulness.

                                          Without active listening, people often feel unheard and unacknowledged. That’s why it’s important for everyone to learn how to be a better listener.

                                          What Makes People Poor Listeners?

                                          Good listening skills can be learned, but first, let’s take a look at some of the things that you might be doing that makes you a poor listener.

                                          1. You Want to Talk to Yourself

                                          Well, who doesn’t? We all have something to say, right? But when you are looking at someone pretending to be listening while, all along, they’re mentally planning all the amazing things they’re going to say, it is a disservice to the speaker.

                                          Yes, maybe what the other person is saying is not the most exciting thing in the world. Still, they deserve to be heard. You always have the ability to steer the conversation in another direction by asking questions.

                                          It’s okay to want to talk. It’s normal, even. Keep in mind, however, that when your turn does come around, you’ll want someone to listen to you.

                                          2. You Disagree With What Is Being Said

                                          This is another thing that makes you an inadequate listener—hearing something with which you disagree with and immediately tuning out. Then, you lie in wait so you can tell the speaker how wrong they are. You’re eager to make your point and prove the speaker wrong. You think that once you speak your “truth,” others will know how mistaken the speaker is, thank you for setting them straight, and encourage you to elaborate on what you have to say. Dream on.

                                          Disagreeing with your speaker, however frustrating that might be, is no reason to tune them out and ready yourself to spew your staggering rebuttal. By listening, you might actually glean an interesting nugget of information that you were previously unaware of.

                                          3. You Are Doing Five Other Things While You’re “Listening”

                                          It is impossible to listen to someone while you’re texting, reading, playing Sudoku, etc. But people do it all the time—I know I have.

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                                          I’ve actually tried to balance my checkbook while pretending to listen to the person on the other line. It didn’t work. I had to keep asking, “what did you say?” I can only admit this now because I rarely do it anymore. With work, I’ve succeeded in becoming a better listener. It takes a great deal of concentration, but it’s certainly worth it.

                                          If you’re truly going to listen, then you must: listen! M. Scott Peck, M.D., in his book The Road Less Travel, says, “you cannot truly listen to anyone and do anything else at the same time.” If you are too busy to actually listen, let the speaker know, and arrange for another time to talk. It’s simple as that!

                                          4. You Appoint Yourself as Judge

                                          While you’re “listening,” you decide that the speaker doesn’t know what they’re talking about. As the “expert,” you know more. So, what’s the point of even listening?

                                          To you, the only sound you hear once you decide they’re wrong is, “Blah, blah, blah, blah, blah!” But before you bang that gavel, just know you may not have all the necessary information. To do that, you’d have to really listen, wouldn’t you? Also, make sure you don’t judge someone by their accent, the way they sound, or the structure of their sentences.

                                          My dad is nearly 91. His English is sometimes a little broken and hard to understand. People wrongly assume that he doesn’t know what he’s talking about—they’re quite mistaken. My dad is a highly intelligent man who has English as his second language. He knows what he’s saying and understands the language perfectly.

                                          Keep that in mind when listening to a foreigner, or someone who perhaps has a difficult time putting their thoughts into words.

                                          Now, you know some of the things that make for an inferior listener. If none of the items above resonate with you, great! You’re a better listener than most.

                                          How To Be a Better Listener

                                          For conversation’s sake, though, let’s just say that maybe you need some work in the listening department, and after reading this article, you make the decision to improve. What, then, are some of the things you need to do to make that happen? How can you be a better listener?

                                          1. Pay Attention

                                          A good listener is attentive. They’re not looking at their watch, phone, or thinking about their dinner plans. They’re focused and paying attention to what the other person is saying. This is called active listening.

                                          According to Skills You Need, “active listening involves listening with all senses. As well as giving full attention to the speaker, it is important that the ‘active listener’ is also ‘seen’ to be listening—otherwise, the speaker may conclude that what they are talking about is uninteresting to the listener.”[1]

                                          As I mentioned, it’s normal for the mind to wander. We’re human, after all. But a good listener will rein those thoughts back in as soon as they notice their attention waning.

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                                          I want to note here that you can also “listen” to bodily cues. You can assume that if someone keeps looking at their watch or over their shoulder, their focus isn’t on the conversation. The key is to just pay attention.

                                          2. Use Positive Body Language

                                          You can infer a lot from a person’s body language. Are they interested, bored, or anxious?

                                          A good listener’s body language is open. They lean forward and express curiosity in what is being said. Their facial expression is either smiling, showing concern, conveying empathy, etc. They’re letting the speaker know that they’re being heard.

                                          People say things for a reason—they want some type of feedback. For example, you tell your spouse, “I had a really rough day!” and your husband continues to check his newsfeed while nodding his head. Not a good response.

                                          But what if your husband were to look up with questioning eyes, put his phone down, and say, “Oh, no. What happened?” How would feel, then? The answer is obvious.

                                          According to Alan Gurney,[2]

                                          “An active listener pays full attention to the speaker and ensures they understand the information being delivered. You can’t be distracted by an incoming call or a Facebook status update. You have to be present and in the moment.

                                          Body language is an important tool to ensure you do this. The correct body language makes you a better active listener and therefore more ‘open’ and receptive to what the speaker is saying. At the same time, it indicates that you are listening to them.”

                                          3. Avoid Interrupting the Speaker

                                          I am certain you wouldn’t want to be in the middle of a sentence only to see the other person holding up a finger or their mouth open, ready to step into your unfinished verbiage. It’s rude and causes anxiety. You would, more than likely, feel a need to rush what you’re saying just to finish your sentence.

                                          Interrupting is a sign of disrespect. It is essentially saying, “what I have to say is much more important than what you’re saying.” When you interrupt the speaker, they feel frustrated, hurried, and unimportant.

                                          Interrupting a speaker to agree, disagree, argue, etc., causes the speaker to lose track of what they are saying. It’s extremely frustrating. Whatever you have to say can wait until the other person is done.

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                                          Be polite and wait your turn!

                                          4. Ask Questions

                                          Asking questions is one of the best ways to show you’re interested. If someone is telling you about their ski trip to Mammoth, don’t respond with, “that’s nice.” That would show a lack of interest and disrespect. Instead, you can ask, “how long have you been skiing?” “Did you find it difficult to learn?” “What was your favorite part of the trip?” etc. The person will think highly of you and consider you a great conversationalist just by you asking a few questions.

                                          5. Just Listen

                                          This may seem counterintuitive. When you’re conversing with someone, it’s usually back and forth. On occasion, all that is required of you is to listen, smile, or nod your head, and your speaker will feel like they’re really being heard and understood.

                                          I once sat with a client for 45 minutes without saying a word. She came into my office in distress. I had her sit down, and then she started crying softly. I sat with her—that’s all I did. At the end of the session, she stood, told me she felt much better, and then left.

                                          I have to admit that 45 minutes without saying a word was tough. But she didn’t need me to say anything. She needed a safe space in which she could emote without interruption, judgment, or me trying to “fix” something.

                                          6. Remember and Follow Up

                                          Part of being a great listener is remembering what the speaker has said to you, then following up with them.

                                          For example, in a recent conversation you had with your co-worker Jacob, he told you that his wife had gotten a promotion and that they were contemplating moving to New York. The next time you run into Jacob, you may want to say, “Hey, Jacob! Whatever happened with your wife’s promotion?” At this point, Jacob will know you really heard what he said and that you’re interested to see how things turned out. What a gift!

                                          According to new research, “people who ask questions, particularly follow-up questions, may become better managers, land better jobs, and even win second dates.”[3]

                                          It’s so simple to show you care. Just remember a few facts and follow up on them. If you do this regularly, you will make more friends.

                                          7. Keep Confidential Information Confidential

                                          If you really want to be a better listener, listen with care. If what you’re hearing is confidential, keep it that way, no matter how tempting it might be to tell someone else, especially if you have friends in common. Being a good listener means being trustworthy and sensitive with shared information.

                                          Whatever is told to you in confidence is not to be revealed. Assure your speaker that their information is safe with you. They will feel relieved that they have someone with whom they can share their burden without fear of it getting out.

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                                          Keeping someone’s confidence helps to deepen your relationship. Also, “one of the most important elements of confidentiality is that it helps to build and develop trust. It potentially allows for the free flow of information between the client and worker and acknowledges that a client’s personal life and all the issues and problems that they have belong to them.”[4]

                                          Be like a therapist: listen and withhold judgment.

                                          NOTE: I must add here that while therapists keep everything in a session confidential, there are exceptions:

                                          1. If the client may be an immediate danger to himself or others.
                                          2. If the client is endangering a population that cannot protect itself, such as in the case of a child or elder abuse.

                                          8. Maintain Eye Contact

                                          When someone is talking, they are usually saying something they consider meaningful. They don’t want their listener reading a text, looking at their fingernails, or bending down to pet a pooch on the street. A speaker wants all eyes on them. It lets them know that what they’re saying has value.

                                          Eye contact is very powerful. It can relay many things without anything being said. Currently, it’s more important than ever with the Covid-19 Pandemic. People can’t see your whole face, but they can definitely read your eyes.

                                          By eye contact, I don’t mean a hard, creepy stare—just a gaze in the speaker’s direction will do. Make it a point the next time you’re in a conversation to maintain eye contact with your speaker. Avoid the temptation to look anywhere but at their face. I know it’s not easy, especially if you’re not interested in what they’re talking about. But as I said, you can redirect the conversation in a different direction or just let the person know you’ve got to get going.

                                          Final Thoughts

                                          Listening attentively will add to your connection with anyone in your life. Now, more than ever, when people are so disconnected due to smartphones and social media, listening skills are critical.

                                          You can build better, more honest, and deeper relationships by simply being there, paying attention, and asking questions that make the speaker feel like what they have to say matters.

                                          And isn’t that a great goal? To make people feel as if they matter? So, go out and start honing those listening skills. You’ve got two great ears. Now use them!

                                          More Tips on How to Be a Better Listener

                                          Featured photo credit: Joshua Rodriguez via unsplash.com

                                          Reference

                                          [1] Skills You Need: Active Listening
                                          [2] Filtered: Body language for active listening
                                          [3] Forbes: People Will Like You More If You Start Asking Follow-up Questions
                                          [4] TAFE NSW Sydney eLearning Moodle: Confidentiality

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