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20 Self-Help Books To Better Your Life In All Aspects

20 Self-Help Books To Better Your Life In All Aspects

Books hold the key to knowledge figured out by those that have already gotten something – they solved a problem, fixed a relationship, or figured “it” out. They then dispelled it into an easily digestible, obtainable format for anyone who is interested.

Books can be life changing, and in the field of self-improvement and self-help, there is no shortage of amazing books that can help you become a better, stronger, and happier person.

Here is a list of 20 self-help books organized in categories, that have affected my life and the lives of thousand of people in an extremely positive manner:

Dating, Relationships, and Dealing with People

1. How to Win Friends and Influence People by Dale Carnegie

how to win friends cover

    A book that delivers on its promise. The classic was originally published in 1936 and has been re-printed and re-formatted again and again throughout the years. It contains simple steps to improve your social skills and relationships, illustrated by Carnegie’s examples in his own life and the lifes of those he knew. Just with the single shred of advice that a person’s favourite word is their own name, you can begin to make waves.

    2. When I Say No I Feel Guilty by Manuel J. Smith

    when i say no i feel guilty cover

      Many people have issues with boundaries: standing up for themselves, saying “No”, and defending their beliefs. Or, they become codependent on others – they make others’ issues and emotions their responsibility. Smith teaches how to properly establish boundaries using applicable techniques, so that you can open your boundaries to those that are safe and deserve your energy, and keep them tightly closed for those who try to mess with your life.

      3. Daring Greatly by Brene Brown

      daring greatly cover

        A game changer. In society today, we discuss our deeper issues less, and the weather more. Nobody wants to connect. Nobody wants to admit that they have flaws that are actually strengths. Daring Greatly presses the message that those who dig deeper, are open about their issues, stick their neck out at business meetings with their own opinions… These people take the most risks, yet gain the most respect from others and rewards. To succeed in life, we must be vulnerable and take chances – in work, dating, and otherwise.

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        4. The Five Love Languages by Gary Chapman

        5 love cover

          Most think love between two people is a simple exchange of words and keeps on going with no work. Wrong. It takes a lot of hard, strategic work that is not the same for each person. After the “honeymoon” or novelty period of a relationship wears off, this book gives you the framework to keep your partnership strong. Your partner may feel love by receiving gifts, while you like hearing nice things that your partner likes about you (words of praise). But understanding that everyone feels love and affection differently will help you build stronger relationships all around you.

          Spirituality

          5. The Power of Now by Eckart Tolle

          power of now cover

            The book that started a phenomenon long withstanding – Be Present. The book is a bit repetitive with the same general message, but gives examples in the context of how one acts during the day and in relationships with others. If nothing else, this book should convince you of the fact that you are not your mind, and that you do not have to believe all of your thoughts (by acting as an observer): Regret lies in the past, anxiety lies in the future, peace is in the now.

            6. A Guide To To The Good Life by William B. Irvine

            a guide to the good life cover

              Irvine presents the classic philosophy of Stoicism born anew in modern times with wonderfully explained practical habits and tools to improve one’s quality of life. For example, periodically imagining we don’t have something we love to remind us of how fortunate we are to actually have it. The information is presented well, and from personal experience, I can definitely say it has helped me become happier and more tranquil.

              Business

              7. The 4-Hour Work Week by Timothy Ferriss

              4hrwwcover

                The phenomenon that made everyone want to quit their 9-5 jobs and work online. You will either love and devour this book, or hate it and all Ferriss stands for. Ferriss tries to get you to realize that your time is limited, and sitting in an office may not be the best way to get the life you want. He provides tools for anything you could ever ask for – from hiring virtual assistants, to e-mail templates for auto-responses. HOWEVER whatever you do, if you are only working four hours a week, you will not make it. This book is about maximizing the time you have.

                8. The Millionaire Fastlane by MJ DeMarco

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                mill fast cover

                  While the book has a lot of repetition (you are mortgaging your life by working a 9-5, investing in index funds, etc.etc…. by being a “slowlaner”), DeMarco’s book is quite motivating to get moving on a business idea, and provides a great deal of useful information. For example: what type of legal entity to format your business into (LLC, S-corp, C-corp), potential problems entrepreneurs run into (such as taking on too many projects at once), and more.

                  9. Decisive by Chip and Dan Heath

                  decisive cover

                    We are terrible at making decisions. We think we are doing well making comparison lists, but really, we’re being tricked by our own emotions into making a poor decision. The Heath brothers break down decision making in to a four step process (WRAP), providing instructions and real life examples of their techniques being put into practice. Expand your options, test your assumptions, distance yourself from the decision before making it, and prepare to be wrong in the worst case.

                    10. Crush It! by Gary Vaynerchuk

                    crush it

                      Gary is an online empire mogul. You will find some filler in this book, but he offers step-by-step methods of creating online businesses. Just like the 4 Hour Work Week though, the take away is that you will have to sit down and work your butt off. Read this if you are looking to start an online presence, want to know about Twitter, or want to start making videos for YouTube.

                      For Men

                      11. No More Mr. Nice Guy by Dr. Robert A. Glover

                      no more mr nice guy cover

                        This book is extremely short, but it packs a punch. After the first 5 pages, I was furious but couldn’t stop reading it. Dr. Glover discusses Nice Guy Syndrome – an anxiety based malady that affects men and makes them lie, manipulate, cheat, and deceive instead of facing reality or their emotions. This pervades everything they do in their sex lives, work, friendships, and more. Dr. Glover breaks down how to overcome the syndrome with step-by-step “breaking free” activities. If you feel anxious about expressing yourself as a man, read this book.

                        12. Way Of The Superior Man by David Deida

                        wotsm cover

                          Deida’s book is a spiritual guide for a man looking on how to be a man in the traditional sense. How does one deal with women? What are masculine and feminine energies (hint: that doesn’t necessarily mean men and women)? How can you, as a man, feel the most happy and fulfilled? Way Of The Superior Man tackles these questions in several short, descriptive chapters. “A man’s purpose in life is his mission, and his mission must always come before his woman.

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                          13. Models by Mark Manson

                          models cover

                            The “manosphere” is filled with books about picking up and sleeping with women – but many come from a place of using lines, are overfilled with complex theory, or only get to the point of sex. Manson pioneered a view on dating that a man’s attractiveness is in inverse proportion to his level of neediness, and in direct proportion to his investment in himself and his own comfort with his own emotions. In short (though the process may take a while): don’t change yourself to make a woman like you, become comfortable with who you are, improve your life for yourself first, and get a handle on expressing your emotions in healthy ways… then you’ll get amazing girls.

                            Mindset

                            14. Man’s Search For Meaning by Viktor E. Frankl

                            mans search cover

                              Viktor Frankl’s book is absolutely inspirational. The first part is Frankl’s telling of his capture as a Jew during World War II, deportation to concentration camps, and return home. Many of his friends died, but with the hope of seeing his wife again, he postulated that he survived. He introduces logotherapy, and his view that as long as a man/woman has something to live for, something they can believe in, they will survive in extreme circumstances. But if they have nothing, they are already dead inside and will give up. Find your why.

                              15. Psycho Cybernetics by Maxwell Maltz

                              psycho cybernetics cover

                                Written in 1960 by a plastic surgeon, Maltz discusses how so many people wanted to change their appearance to be “beautiful”, but all they needed was a change in how they saw themselves to be happy. Maltz introduces methods of relaxation and mental preparation and practice used by everyone from public speakers to professional basketball players. Yes, it can help you too.

                                16. As A Man Thinketh by James Allen

                                as a man thinketh cover

                                  The classic essay is short with a clear message: your thoughts determine your reality. Your mind is like a garden and your thoughts are seeds sprouting into flowers (good) or weeds (bad). But without your focus and energy, the bad thoughts will die. So work on tending your garden, and only let flowers grow. You can’t stop negative thoughts entirely, but you do not have to believe them. You do not have to let them grow and fester.

                                  Psychology

                                  17. Predictably Irrational by Dan Ariely

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                                  predic irrat cover

                                    Ariely looks into why we do the things we do, even when we think we’re being smart. We think we’re being logical, but it’s only our emotions tricking us. This book will help you uncover your hidden motivations and make you second guess yourself… in a good way. Backed up with stories, tests on University students and more, it’s psychological theory but not drab and boring by any stretch.

                                    18. Influence: The Psychology of Persuasion by Robert B. Cialdini

                                    influence

                                      While being a bit long and dense, Influence will help you understand how people work… just don’t take too much advantage of them. This is not only directly useful in relationships and with people, but also for sales positions, job interviews, and even writing (I promise I haven’t used any tricks on you).

                                      19. The Red Queen by Matt Ridley

                                      red queen

                                        Why are men more prone to wanting multiple mates? Why should women be more selective? What is encoded into our genes? Ridley’s book on evolutionary biology is academic, but a must read to understand the more nerdy side of sex and how people choose their mates. Just make sure you don’t just read the book but actually go out to meet people as well.

                                        Travel

                                        20. Vagabonding by Rolf Plotts

                                        vagabonding

                                          This was the first book that got me EXTREMELY excited about traveling. Plotts advocates slower travel (longer stays in places) and gives you packing lists and helpful hints. But, it is his approach to the concept of traveling that is the best part of the book: For him traveling is almost a form of meditation, a journey of self-discovery. If you want to get excited about traveling, you need to read this book.

                                          This is my list. How many have you read? Do you want to check any of these out? What would you recommend?

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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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