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21 Life Changing Autobiographies From Around The World

21 Life Changing Autobiographies From Around The World

Some of the greatest humans have chronicled extremely important events in their life. Reading into how they handle these experiences and how they overcome challenges can be both illuminating and rewarding. These 20 autobiographies will motivate, inspire, and amaze you. Read them, and they will surely change the way you look at life.

1. The Autobiography of Andrew Carnegie – Andrew Carnegie

Andrew Carnegie

    Andrew Carnegie lived to be one of the greatest businessmen of his generation. His autobiography details his ascent from living on the streets to founding an amazingly successful company. You’ll gain great insights from Carnegie throughout the book.

    2. The Autobiography of Malcolm X –  Malcolm X

    malcolm x

      Malcolm X represents one of the most significant figures in the civil rights movement. His autobiography, published in 1965, allows readers to understand his philosophy on black pride, black nationalism, and pan-Africanism.

      3. The Autobiography of Benjamin Franklin – Benjamin Franklin

      benjamin franklin

        This autobiography from one of the United States’ founding fathers is a must read by both historical and self-improvement standards. The book reveals the formation of Franklin’s ideas, his youth, and his rise from poverty to riches. Benjamin Franklin represents one of the first true examples of the American dream – the idea that a man can rise to financial independence through plain-old hardwork.

        4. Up From Slavery – Booker T. Washington

        booker t washington

          Booker T. Washington represents an important figure in the struggle for equal rights in America. He firmly believed in education as a path to equality. Take a look into his childhood immersed in a world of slavery and the founding of the ideas that would make him recognized world wide.

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          5. The Diary of a Young Girl – Anne Frank

          anne frank

            The Diary of a Young Girl details Anne Frank’s life as a fugitive during World War II. The book reveals the experiences of a teenager in the worst of the Holocaust. Her insights, compassion, and spiritual depth serve to deliver a diary beyond her years.

            6. Long Walk To Freedom – Nelson Mandela

            nelson mandela

              Nelson Mandela grew to be a notable South African president. Much of his memoir was written during his 27 years spent unjustly in prison. Long Walk To Freedom puts words to his ideas and deserves a place on your shelf.

              7. A Moveable Feast – Ernest Hemingway

              a moveable feast

                Hemingway remains a creative to be rivaled. Published after his death, A Moveable Feast combines his papers into a work that illustrates his youth in Paris in the 1920s.

                8. Homage To Catalonia – George Orwell

                homage to catalonia

                  In Homage To Catalonia, George Orwell tells the tale of his role in the Spanish war in 1936 where he took up arms against the fascists.

                  9. I Know Why The Caged Bird Sings – Maya Angelou

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                  i know why the caged bird sings

                    In I Know Why The Caged Bird Sings, Maya Angelou vividly accounts her life growing up in the depression as a black woman. The story is both moving and eye-opening.

                    10. Angela’s Ashes – Frank McCourt

                    angela's ashes

                      Frank McCourt grew up in Brooklyn during the Depression poverty struck. In Angela’s Ashes he tells his powerful story of a drunken father, a loving mother, and a life under extreme poverty.

                      11. A Child Called It – Dave Pelzer

                      dave pelzer

                        In both a horrifying and gripping manner, Dave Pelzer reveals the shadows of a childhood haunted by abuse. The book can be hard to read at times, but ultimately opens one’s eyes to the terrible tragedy that is child abuse.

                        12. All Creatures Great and Small – James Herriot

                        james herriot

                          All Creatures Great and Small is a lighthearted collection of James Herriot’s stories as a veterinarian in Yorkshire Dales. The book is satisfying and easy to pick up. Great for when you’re looking for some light reading.

                          13. On Writing: A Memoir of the Craft – Stephen King

                          stephen king

                            Stephen King, one of the bestselling authors of all time, gives a class on writing through a memoir of his life. It’s entertaining for casual readers and illuminating for those looking to improve their writing skills.

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                            14. The Hiding Place – Corrie ten Bloom

                            corrie ten bloom

                              The Hiding Place explains the amazing story of Corrie ten Bloom and her family. Together, they became leaders in the Dutch underground during World War II, hiding Jewish refugees from the Nazis.

                              15. Unbroken: A World War II Story of Survival, Resilience, and Redemption – Laura Hillenbrand

                              unbroken

                                Okay I cheated. This is actually an account of Louis Zamperini by Laura Hillenbrand, so technically it’s not an autobiography. Either way, you need to check it out. The book puts you into the shoes of a man pushed to the limit in the middle of the ocean after a plane crash in World War II. It will both inspire and astound you.

                                16. Night – Elie Weisel

                                elie weisel

                                  In Night, Elie Weisel writes of his experience with his father in the concentration camps of Nazi Germany. He discusses his disgust in humanity as his father descends into a helpless state where he, as a teenager, must pick up the slack to take care of him.

                                  17. The Last Lecture – Randy Pausch

                                  the last lecture

                                    In August 2007, the doctors gave Randy Pausch, a computer science professor at Carnegie Mellon, a terminal diagnosis for his cancer. He gave his final lecture on September of the same year titled: ‘Really Achieving Your Childhood Dreams.’ In his book he expands on his ideas of the lecture in a written form. Definitely worth checking out.

                                    18. The Glass Castle – Jeanette Walls

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                                    jeannette walls

                                      The Glass Castle tells the story of Jeanette Walls and her childhood. With an uncommitted mother, and a father who loses himself to alcohol, the Walls children are forced to learn to take care of themselves. A great story.

                                      19. Man’s Search for Meaning – Viktor Frankl

                                      man's search

                                        Viktor Frankl lived to tell the tale of his life in four different concentration camps in Germany during World War II. Man’s Search for Meaning guides readers through these experiences and brings them lessons on spiritual survival. This book has some great takeaways and should definitely have a place on your shelf.

                                        20. The Story of My Life – Helen Keller

                                        the story of my life

                                          Helen Keller, a name recognized by nearly everyone in American culture, grew up both blind and deaf. The Story of My Life is her autobiography about overcoming such great obstacles through pain and hardwork.

                                          21. Persepolis: The Story of a Childhood – Marjane Satrapi

                                          marjane satrapi

                                            In Persepolis, Marjane Satrapi talks of her life as young girl during the Islamic Revolution. Don’t let the idea that the book is a graphic novel stop you – it remains quite as moving as any other memoir on this list.

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                                            Last Updated on January 24, 2021

                                            How to Say No When You Know You Say Yes Too Often

                                            How to Say No When You Know You Say Yes Too Often

                                            Do you say yes so often that you no longer feel that your own needs are being met? Are you wondering how to say no to people?

                                            For years, I was a serial people pleaser[1]. Known as someone who would step up, I would gladly make time, especially when it came to volunteering for certain causes. I proudly carried this role all through grade school, college, even through law school. For years, I thought saying “no” meant I would disappoint a good friend or someone I respected.

                                            But somewhere along the way, I noticed I wasn’t quite living my life. Instead, I seem to have created a schedule that was a strange combination of meeting the expectations of others, what I thought I should be doing, and some of what I actually wanted to do. The result? I had a packed schedule that left me overwhelmed and unfulfilled.

                                            It took a long while, but I learned the art of saying no. Saying no meant I no longer catered fully to everyone else’s needs and could make more room for what I really wanted to do. Instead of cramming too much in, I chose to pursue what really mattered. When that happened, I became a lot happier.

                                            And guess what? I hardly disappointed anyone.

                                            The Importance of Saying No

                                            When you learn the art of saying no, you begin to look at the world differently. Rather than seeing all of the things you could or should be doing (and aren’t doing), you start to look at how to say yes to what’s important.

                                            In other words, you aren’t just reacting to what life throws at you. You seek the opportunities that move you to where you want to be.

                                            Successful people aren’t afraid to say no. Oprah Winfrey, considered one of the most successful women in the world, confessed that it was much later in life when she learned how to say no. Even after she had become internationally famous, she felt she had to say yes to virtually everything.

                                            Being able to say no also helps you manage your time better.

                                            Warren Buffett views “no” as essential to his success. He said:

                                            “The difference between successful people and really successful people is that really successful people say no to almost everything.”

                                            When I made “no” a part of my toolbox, I drove more of my own success, focusing on fewer things and doing them well.

                                            How We Are Pressured to Say Yes

                                            It’s no wonder a lot of us find it hard to say no.

                                            From an early age, we are conditioned to say yes. We said yes probably hundreds of times in order to graduate from high school and then get into college. We said yes to find work, to get a promotion, to find love and then yes again to stay in a relationship. We said yes to find and keep friends.

                                            We say yes because we feel good when we help someone, because it can seem like the right thing to do, because we think that is key to success, and because the request might come from someone who is hard to resist.

                                            And that’s not all. The pressure to say yes doesn’t just come from others. We put a lot of pressure on ourselves.

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                                            At work, we say yes because we compare ourselves to others who seem to be doing more than we are. Outside of work, we say yes because we are feeling bad that we aren’t doing enough to spend time with family or friends.

                                            The message, no matter where we turn, is nearly always, “You really could be doing more.” The result? When people ask us for our time, we are heavily conditioned to say yes.

                                            How Do You Say No Without Feeling Guilty?

                                            Deciding to add the word “no” to your toolbox is no small thing. Perhaps you already say no, but not as much as you would like. Maybe you have an instinct that if you were to learn the art of no that you could finally create more time for things you care about.

                                            But let’s be honest, using the word “no” doesn’t come easily for many people.

                                            3 Rules of Thumbs for Saying No

                                            1. You Need to Get Out of Your Comfort Zone

                                            Let’s face it. It is hard to say no. Setting boundaries around your time, especially you haven’t done it much in the past, will feel awkward. Your comfort zone is “yes,” so it’s time to challenge that and step outside that.

                                            If you need help getting out of your comfort zone, check out this article.

                                            2. You Are the Air Traffic Controller of Your Time

                                            When you want to learn how to say no, remember that you are the only one who understands the demands for your time. Think about it: who else knows about all of the demands in your life? No one.

                                            Only you are at the center of all of these requests. You are the only one that understands what time you really have.

                                            3. Saying No Means Saying Yes to Something That Matters

                                            When we decide not to do something, it means we can say yes to something else that we may care more about. You have a unique opportunity to decide how you spend your precious time.

                                            6 Ways to Start Saying No

                                            Incorporating that little word “no” into your life can be transformational. Turning some things down will mean you can open doors to what really matters. Here are some essential tips to learn the art of no:

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                                            1. Check in With Your Obligation Meter

                                            One of the biggest challenges to saying no is a feeling of obligation. Do you feel you have a responsibility to say yes and worry that saying no will reflect poorly on you?

                                            Ask yourself whether you truly have the duty to say yes. Check your assumptions or beliefs about whether you carry the responsibility to say yes. Turn it around and instead ask what duty you owe to yourself.

                                            2. Resist the Fear of Missing out (FOMO)

                                            Do you have a fear of missing out (FOMO)? FOMO can follow us around in so many ways. At work, we volunteer our time because we fear we won’t move ahead. In our personal lives, we agree to join the crowd because of FOMO, even while we ourselves aren’t enjoying the fun.

                                            Check in with yourself. Are you saying yes because of FOMO or because you really want to say yes? More often than not, running after fear doesn’t make us feel better[2].

                                            3. Check Your Assumptions About What It Means to Say No

                                            Do you dread the reaction you will get if you say no? Often, we say yes because we worry about how others will respond or because of the consequences. We may be afraid to disappoint others or think we will lose their respect. We often forget how much we are disappointing ourselves along the way.

                                            Keep in mind that saying no can be exactly what is needed to send the right message that you have limited time. In the tips below, you will see how to communicate your no in a gentle and loving way.

                                            You might disappoint someone initially, but drawing a boundary can bring you the freedom you need so that you can give freely of yourself when you truly want to. And it will often help others have more respect for you and your boundaries, not less.

                                            4. When the Request Comes in, Sit on It

                                            Sometimes, when we are in the moment, we instinctively agree. The request might make sense at first. Or we typically have said yes to this request in the past.

                                            Give yourself a little time to reflect on whether you really have the time or can do the task properly. You may decide the best option is to say no. There is no harm in giving yourself the time to decide.

                                            5. Communicate Your “No” with Transparency and Kindness

                                            When you are ready to tell someone no, communicate your decision clearly. The message can be open and honest[3] to ensure the recipient that your reasons have to do with your limited time.

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                                            How do you say no? 9 Healthy Ways to Say “No”

                                              Resist the temptation not to respond or communicate all. But do not feel obligated to provide a lengthy account about why you are saying no.

                                              Clear communication with a short explanation is all that is needed. I have found it useful to tell people that I have many demands and need to be careful with how I allocate my time. I will sometimes say I really appreciate that they came to me and for them to check in again if the opportunity arises another time.

                                              6. Consider How to Use a Modified No

                                              If you are under pressure to say yes but want to say no, you may want to consider downgrading a “yes” to a “yes but…” as this will give you an opportunity to condition your agreement to what works best for you.

                                              Sometimes, the condition can be to do the task, but not in the time frame that was originally requested. Or perhaps you can do part of what has been asked.

                                              Final Thoughts

                                              Beginning right now, you can change how you respond to requests for your time. When the request comes in, take yourself off autopilot where you might normally say yes.

                                              Use the request as a way to draw a healthy boundary around your time. Pay particular attention to when you place certain demands on yourself.

                                              Try it now. Say no to a friend who continues to take advantage of your goodwill. Or, draw the line with a workaholic colleague and tell them you will complete the project, but not by working all weekend. You’ll find yourself much happier.

                                              More Tips on How to Say No

                                              Featured photo credit: Chris Ainsworth via unsplash.com

                                              Reference

                                              [1] Science of People: 11 Expert Tips to Stop Being a People Pleaser and Start Doing You
                                              [2] Anxiety and Depression Association of America: Tips to Get Over Your FOMO, or Fear of Missing Out
                                              [3] Cooks Hill Counseling: 9 Healthy Ways to Say “No”

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