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25 Self-Improvement Books That Will Make You A Better Person

25 Self-Improvement Books That Will Make You A Better Person

These 25 self-improvement books will surprise you, make you think, and maybe even insult you. But more than anything, they will help you become a better person.

1. You Are Not So Smart: Why You Have Too Many Friends on Facebook, Why Your Memory Is Mostly Fiction, and 46 Other Ways You’re Deluding Yourself

by David McRaney Read it

self-improvement books

    “If you see lots of shark attacks in the news, you think, ‘Gosh, sharks are out of control.’ What you should think is ‘Gosh, the news loves to cover shark attacks.”

    While the title may seem a bit insulting, this book is meant to celebrate our irrational nature, and explain human psych in an entertaining way. Sections like Learned Helplessness, Selling Out, and the Illusion of Transparency give a peak into the human brain – in all it’s glory and craziness.

    2. The Upside of Irrationality: The Unexpected Benefits of DefyingLogic at Work and at Home

    by Dan Ariely Read it

    the

      “Upton Sinclair once noted, “It is difficult to get a man to understand something when his salary depends upon his not understanding it.”

      This is another read on human irrationality, again with a positive, explanatory spin. Ariely, an economist, gives insight into human behavior in relationships and the workplace. He also covers the fascinating, underlying reasons why humans cheat.

      3. The Tipping Point: How Little Things Can Make a Big Difference

      by Malcolm Gladwell Read it

      tip

        “Emotion is contagious.”

        In the age of viral videos, content, and ideas, The Tipping Point explores a very relevant question: what makes something spread? The book covers the topic in a universal manner, helpful to anyone in business or simply anyone with a promising idea in their head.

        4. The Road Less Traveled: A New Psychology of Love, Traditional Values, and Spiritual Growth

        by M. Scott Peck Read it

        road

          “Problems call forth our courage and our wisdom; indeed, they create our courage and wisdom.”

          While The Road Less Travelled is decades old, it is a classic self-improvement best seller for good reason. This is a great read for anyone who wants to improve and better understand their relationships.

          5. Man’s Search for Meaning

          by Victor Frankl Read it

          self-improvement

            “Man is originally characterized by his “search for meaning” rather than his “search for himself.”

            The more he forgets himself—giving himself to a cause or another person—the more human he is. And the more he is immersed and absorbed in something or someone other than himself the more he really becomes himself.”  A profound story, Man’s Search For Meaning tells of the author’s experiences in Auschwitz. Frankl goes on to explain a profound psychological therapy program based on what he learned during these struggles.

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            6. The Now Habit: A Strategic Program for Overcoming Procrastination and Enjoying Guilt-Free Play

            by Neil Fiore Read it

            now

              “When you commit to a goal, you’re committing to a form of work that brings ongoing rewards. When you procrastinate, you’re choosing a self-punishing form of work.”

              This one’s for the do-it-tomorrowers. The Now Habit outlines how to accomplish tasks without the negativity and guilt, and how to enjoy your free time in a more meaningful way.

              7. For Your Own Good: Hidden Cruelty in Child-Rearing and the Roots of Violence

              by Alice Miller Read it

              good

                This book drives home the ways in which abusive parenting can deeply damage a child. Miller, a Swiss psychologist, determines what kinds of parenting mistakes lead to major developmental problems in children. She also discusses ways in which adults can finally heal their childhood scars.

                8. Emotional Intelligence: Why It Can Matter More Than IQ

                by Daniel Goleman Read it

                2

                  “When we are in the grip of craving or fury, head-over-heals in love our recoiling in dread, it is the limbic system that has us in its grip.” 

                  Goleman distinguishes between 2 minds: the rational and the emotional, and how your emotional intelligence can determine success in almost any social area, including work and relationships. This book defines a new way to be “smart.”

                  9. Switch: How to Change Things When Change Is Hard

                  by Chip Heath & Dan Heath Read it

                  switch

                    “Knowledge does not change behavior. We have all encountered crazy shrinks and obese doctors and divorced marriage counselors.”

                    Knowing that something must change is often simple, but actually changing it is another issue entirely. This book teaches us why change is hard, and gives examples of how uniting the rational and emotional minds can bring lasting change.

                    10. Whatcha Gonna Do with That Duck?: And Other Provocations

                    by Seth Godin Read it

                    duck

                      “Hard work begins when you deal with the things that you’d rather not deal with: fear of failure, fear of standing out, fear of rejection. Hard work is about training yourself to leap over this barrier, tunnel under that barrier, drive through the other barrier. And then, to do it again the next day.”

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                      If the title stumps you, it’s a reference to the idiom that instructs us to “get our ducks in a row.” The book is a collection of Godin’s best blog posts on topics like marketing, business, bravery, and communication, all ripe with humor and innovation.

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

                      by Alan Wallace Read it

                      1

                        “Meditation is a balancing act between attention and relaxation.” 

                        A cross between Buddhism and science, this book perfectly conveys the importance of an underrated skill: paying attention. Wallace shows how profound levels of attention can be reached through meditation, and how it can change our lives.

                        12. The Happiness Hypothesis: Finding Modern Truth in Ancient Wisdom

                        happ

                          by Jonathan Haidt Read it

                          “If you are in passionate love and want to celebrate your passion, read poetry. If your ardor has calmed and you want to understand your evolving relationship, read psychology. But if you have just ended a relationship and would like to believe you are better off without love, read philosophy.” 

                          This book delves back in history to extract wisdom and guidance for modern times. Taking a psychological perspective to determine how happiness is achieved, this book reminds us of the hidden wisdom in basic truths.

                          13. The Wisdom of the Enneagram: The Complete Guide to Psychological and Spiritual Growth for the Nine Personality Types

                          by Don Riso and Russ Hudson Read it

                          enneagram

                            “If we observe ourselves truthfully and non-judgmentally, seeing the mechanisms of our personality in action, we can wake up, and our lives can be a miraculous unfolding of beauty and joy.” 

                            If there is one thing this book will help you achieve, it’s a higher level of self-understanding. The book includes questionnaires for you to categorize your perspective, as well as detailed advice depending on your results.

                            14. The Blank Slate: The Modern Denial of Human Nature

                            by Steven Pinker Read it

                            slate

                              “Human material existence is limited by ideas, not by stuff.”

                              Pinker’s ultra logical insights nail down some of the most common questions and misconceptions about human nature. He covers a variety of topics including politics, parenting, and art, explaining how common beliefs have distorted the truth about who we are as a species. 

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

                              by Maxwell Maltz Read it

                              psych

                                “Every human being is hypnotized to some extent, either by ideas he has uncritically accepted from others or ideas he has convinced himself are true. These negative ideas have exactly the same effect upon our behavior as the negative ideas implanted into the mind of a subject by a professional hypnotist.” 

                                Psycho‑Cybernetics is a program that pioneered the concept of a mind-body connection. The book’s aim is to help you find happiness, health, and success through changing negative habits – and yes, the “how” is explained too.

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                                16. Thinking, Fast and Slow

                                by Daniel Kahneman Read it

                                fast

                                  “The illusion that we understand the past fosters overconfidence in our ability to predict the future.”

                                  Thinking Fast and Slow will get you thinking about thinking. How to optimize your thinking, the dangers of bias and overconfidence, and proper decision making are just a few of the topics covered.

                                  17. The Highly Sensitive Person

                                  by Elaine Aron Read it

                                  self-improvement books

                                    “Highly sensitive people are cautious, inward, needing extra time alone. Because people without the trait (the majority) do not understand that, they see us as timid, shy, weak, or that greatest sin of all, unsociable. Fearing these labels, we try to be like others. But that leads to our becoming overaroused and distressed. Then that gets us labeled neurotic or crazy, first by others and then by ourselves.” 

                                    The Highly Sensitive Person is a good read for those who want to calm overstimulation and anxiety. However, for those who aren’t in this population, it will help you enrich your interactions with those that are in this group.

                                    18. The Power of Now

                                    by Eckhart Tolle Read it

                                    now

                                      “The past gives you an identity and the future holds the promise of salvation, of fulfillment in whatever form. Both are illusions.”

                                      A wildly popular book, The Power of Now is a 101 guide to spiritual growth and enlightenment. Tolle reveals how we shape our relationship with and experience of pain.

                                      19. Outliers: The Story of Success

                                      by Malcolm Gladwell Read it

                                      outleirs

                                        “Hard work is a prison sentence only if it does not have meaning. Once it does, it becomes the kind of thing that makes you grab your wife around the waist and dance a jig.” 

                                        Outliers is a fascinating book about what everyone wants to know: what do I need to do to be a huge success? The answer may surprise you. Gladwell draws attention not to what successful people do, but where they are from.

                                        20.Who Moved My Cheese?: An Amazing Way to Deal with Change in Your Work and in Your Life

                                        by Spencer Johnson Read it  

                                        cheese

                                          “The fear you let build up in your mind is worse than the situation that actually exists.” 

                                          Afraid of change? This book will teach you to shift your attitude on change and learn to accept the more difficult ones. Using plenty of humor and practicality, Johnson prepares us for that which has yet to come.

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                                          21. This Is How

                                          by Augusten Burroughs Read it

                                          how

                                            “I’m lonely in some horribly deep way and for a flash of an instant, I can see just how lonely, and how deep this feeling runs. And it scares the shit out of me to be so lonely because it seems catastrophic – seeing the car just as it hits you.” 

                                            Burroughs offers a catch-all solution to just about every different struggle a person can have: resilience. This author has been through it all, and has come out the other side to offer a unique way for us to endure our issues.

                                            22.  “Life Was Never Meant to Be a Struggle”

                                            by Stuart Wild Read it

                                            life

                                              “If you don’t change, reality in the end forces that change upon you.” 

                                              The general theme of this book is to identify the root of a problem and develop an action plan to solve it. This book will change your perception of struggle, eliminating it as a necessity for success. “No pain, no gain” simply becomes “no pain.”

                                              23. “Feel the Fear… and Do It Anyway” 

                                              by Susan Jeffers Read it

                                              fear

                                                “The only way to feel better about myself is to go out… and do it.”

                                                Jeffers gives a no-nonsense approach to overcoming fear in any area of life. While there may not be a way to eliminate it, we can act despite fear. This book will help you move away from a victim mentality and into a place of power.

                                                24. The Art of Happiness

                                                by The Dalai Lama Read it

                                                art

                                                  “If you want others to be happy, practice compassion. If you want to be happy, practice compassion.” 

                                                  The Art of Happiness is a practical guide to “riding it out.” The Dalai Lama provides stories and examples of how we can withstand everyday setbacks, while still maintaing a constant inner peace.

                                                  25. Change Your Brain, Change Your Life: The Breakthrough Program for Conquering Anxiety, Depression, Obsessiveness, Anger, and Impulsiveness

                                                  by Daniel G. Amen Read it

                                                  change

                                                    Amen gives us a peek into our mental health issues from a neuroscience perspective. Thanks to the discovery of neuroplasticity, this book provides simple techniques we can use to literally change how our brains function.

                                                    Featured photo credit: kshelton via pixabay.com

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                                                    Last Updated on September 30, 2020

                                                    How to Live in the Moment and Stop Worrying About the Future

                                                    How to Live in the Moment and Stop Worrying About the Future

                                                    We often hear people talk about the importance of living in the present and the different ways it will benefit us. It all sounds wonderful, especially the lower levels of stress and anxiety, but how exactly can we live in the moment when our mind is constantly worrying about the past or plans for the future?

                                                    In this article, we’ll discuss some of the benefits of living in the moment you may not be aware of. Then, we’ll look at some of the obstacles and why we worry. Finally, and most importantly, I’ll show you how to live in the moment and stop worrying using some simple practices that you can easily incorporate into your busy schedule.

                                                    The result: a happier and more fulfilling life.

                                                    The Importance of Living in the Moment

                                                    “The secret of health for both mind and body is not to mourn for the past, worry about the future, or anticipate troubles, but to live in the present moment wisely and earnestly.” -Buddha

                                                    While it can be difficult to live in the moment, it has innumerable benefits.

                                                    Here are just a few that will enhance your life tremendously:

                                                    Better Health

                                                    By reducing stress and anxiety, you avoid many of the associated health consequences, such as high blood pressure, heart disease, and obesity. Studies have shown that being present can also improve psychological well-being[1].

                                                    Improve Your Relationships

                                                    Have you ever been with someone who is physically present, but mentally s/he’s a million miles away?

                                                    Being with unavailable people is a struggle, and building relationships with them extremely difficult.

                                                    How about being with someone who is fully present? We enjoy being with her/him because we can make a much deeper connection.

                                                    By living in the moment, you can be that person other people enjoy being with, and you make relationships much easier.

                                                    Greater Self-Control

                                                    You have greater control over your mind, body, and emotions. Imagine how much better your life would be if it weren’t at the mercy of a racing mind and unpredictable emotions. You would certainly be more at peace, and much happier[2].

                                                    Why Do We Worry?

                                                    Before we answer this question, it’s important to distinguish between worry and concern.

                                                    When we are concerned about something, we are more likely dealing with a real problem with realistic solutions. Then, once we do whatever we can to address the problem, we’re willing to live with the outcome.

                                                    Worrying, on the other hand, involves unrealistic thinking. We may worry about a problem that doesn’t really exist, or dwell on all the bad things that can happen as a result. Then, we feel unable to deal with the outcome. Either way, we have difficulty dealing with uncertainty, which is a normal part of life.

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                                                    Certainly, some of our problems may not have desirable outcomes, such as a serious health issue. Some problems may be beyond our control, such as civil unrest or economic downturn. In such cases, it can be hard to avoid worrying, but not impossible.

                                                    3 Steps to Start to Live in the Moment

                                                    Step 1: Overcome Worrying

                                                    In order to overcome worrying, we need to do two things:

                                                    Calm Your Mind

                                                    When you calm your mind, you are able to see more clearly.

                                                    The reason some problems seem so daunting is that our mind is racing so fast that we cannot see things as they truly are. Then, we make up a bunch of possible scenarios in our mind, most of which are unlikely to come true.

                                                    In addition to seeing more clearly, a calm mind will help us think more realistically. Unrealistic thinking is fueled by confusion and uncontrolled emotions. Calming your mind will reduce confusion and calm your emotions, allowing you to live in the present.

                                                    Focus on Solutions Instead of Problems

                                                    Some people tend to be more solution-oriented, and others more problem-oriented. Some of the factors that may determine this are gender, upbringing, and education.

                                                    People with more education tend to be problem-solvers. That is what their years of education train them to do. In addition, their jobs probably reinforce this way of thinking.

                                                    If you’re not problem-solving oriented, don’t worry. You can train yourself to worry less. We’ll discuss that soon.

                                                    Step 2: Identify Obstacles to Living in the Moment

                                                    In today’s busy world, it can be a challenge to live in the moment. The reasons revolve around how our mind works, as well as outside influences.

                                                    Racing Mind

                                                    Many busy people have a racing mind that never seems to slow down. Their mind gets so agitated from too much sensory stimulation.

                                                    You see, anything that stimulates any of our five senses will trigger a thought, and that thought leads to another, and then another, and so on.

                                                    If you have a busy life, all your activities will overstimulate your mind and make it seemingly impossible to slow it down.

                                                    Unpleasant Situations and a Troublesome Past

                                                    None of us want to be in unpleasant situations, or remember those of the past. They can bring up painful emotions, which we don’t want to feel.

                                                    So how do most people cope with painful emotions?

                                                    By doing whatever we can to avoid them, we can take our mind to another place and time where things are more pleasant.

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                                                    In other words, we avoid living in the present moment.

                                                    Some people resort to things that stimulate sensory pleasure, such as food, alcohol, or sex. Others will consume substances that dull their mind and keep them from thinking about unpleasant or stressful situations.

                                                    A Wandering Mind

                                                    From the moment we are born (likely sooner) until the time we die, our body and mind are active performing some function. Therefore, it’s natural for our mind to have some level of activity, whether conscious or unconscious.

                                                    Generally, a wandering mind is unproductive. One thought starts an endless chain of thoughts, and this process can go on until we need our mind to perform a specific function or get distracted with something else.

                                                    Now, there are times when a wandering mind can be productive, such as when creating works of art, or trying to find creative solutions to problems. In such cases, we need our mind to explore different possibilities[3].

                                                    Outside Influences

                                                    Most of us are not fully aware of how our environment and social norms influence our thinking and behavior. People and institutions are constantly competing for our attention. The media draws our attention to the past, and advertising usually to the future[4].

                                                    Many people around us who dwell on the past or future try to draw us to their way of thinking. Even the whole concept of the American dream is geared toward the future. It tells us that if we acquire things like a good career, family, and house, then we’ll be happy.

                                                    Step 3: Practice Mindfulness

                                                    So how can we live in the moment in a world that is constantly trying to draw our attention to the past and future?

                                                    Before we get into concrete actions you can take, it’s important to understand what mindfulness is. You’ve probably heard the term before, but may not fully understand what it means.

                                                    Understand Mindfulness

                                                    The concept of mindfulness is actually quite simple. To be mindful is to live in the moment.

                                                    When you are mindful, your attention is focused on what is happening in the present moment, and you are fully in touch with reality[5].

                                                    You are aware of what is happening in your body, mind, emotions, and the world around you. This is different than thinking about these things. To develop greater understanding, you don’t have to think about them so much, but rather just observe them.

                                                    This may be counterintuitive to many people, especially intellectuals, because they’re so used to using logic to develop greater understanding. With mindfulness, we calm our mind and emotions so we can see clearer. Then, much of our understanding will come from simple observation. When we develop mindfulness, we literally expand our awareness.

                                                    To develop mindfulness, we need to train ourselves to observe things more objectively, that is, without our emotions or preconceived ideas influencing our views.

                                                    If you’re ready to live a better life, read on for some simple mindfulness practices that you can incorporate into your daily routine to help you live in the moment.

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                                                    You don’t have to do all of them, but rather choose the ones that appeal to you and suit your lifestyle.

                                                    Mindfulness Meditation

                                                    Mindfulness meditation is the mainstay of developing mindfulness and living in the moment. To practice mindfulness meditation, all you really have to do is sit quietly and follow your breathing. When your mind wanders off, just bring it back to your breath.

                                                    Notice how your lungs expand with each in-breath and contract with each out-breath. Let your breathing become relaxed and natural.

                                                    You don’t have to do it perfectly. The idea is to start spending time away from the constant sensory stimulation of all your activities, and just allow it to settle down naturally. Start with about 5 to 10 minutes per day and work your way up to about 20 minutes or longer.

                                                    This practice is highly effective, and can have both short-term and long-term benefits.

                                                    If you want to learn more about mindfulness meditation, take a look at this article: What Is Mindfulness Meditation? 7 Ways to Start Meditating

                                                    Mindful Breathing

                                                    While this may sound the same as mindfulness meditation, all you’re really doing is taking short breaks occasionally (10 to 15 seconds) to observe your breathing. Stop whatever you’re doing, and take a few mindful breaths, then resume your activity. That’s it.

                                                    You can do mindful breathing at any time of the day during your busy schedule. What it does is interrupt the acceleration of your mind. It is like taking your foot off the accelerator while driving. It’s a nice refreshing break you can take without anyone noticing.

                                                    Here’re some breathing exercises you can try to learn: 5 Breathing Exercises for Anxiety (Simple and Calm Anxiety Quickly)

                                                    Mindful Walking

                                                    Walking is an activity that you perform several times throughout the day. We often think we’re being productive by texting or calling someone while walking. But are we really?

                                                    Instead of getting on your cell phone or letting your mind wander off, why not use your walking to train yourself to live in the moment and focus on the task at hand?

                                                    Mindful walking is similar to mindful breathing, but instead of focusing on your breath, focus on your walking. Pay attention to each footstep. Also, notice the different motions of your arms, legs, and torso. When your mind wanders off, just bring your attention back to your walking.

                                                    You can even make a meditation out of walking. That is, go walking for a few minutes outside. Start by slowing down your pace. If you slow down your body, your mind will follow.

                                                    In addition to paying attention to your walking, notice the trees, sunshine, and critters. A mindful walk is enjoyable and can really help your mind settle down.

                                                    You can discover more benefits of walking in nature here.

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                                                    Mindful Eating

                                                    Eating is an activity that most of us perform mindlessly. The reason is that it doesn’t require your attention to perform. Therefore, many of us try to multitask while we eat. We may talk on the phone, text, watch TV, or even hold a meeting.

                                                    The problem with not eating mindfully is that we don’t eat what our body and mind need to perform at an optimal level[6]. We may eat unhealthy foods, or too much. This can lead to various health problems, especially as we get older.

                                                    Live in the present with mindful eating.

                                                      Mindful eating has many health benefits, such as reduced food cravings, better digestion, and even weight loss[7].

                                                      So how do you eat mindfully? Start by slowing down, and avoid the temptation to distract yourself with another activity. Here are 3 different aspects of eating where you can practice mindfulness:

                                                      • Eating itself: Focus your attention on choosing a portion of food to insert into your mouth. Notice the smell, flavor, and texture as you chew it; then finally swallow it. As with following your breath during meditation, pay close attention to every aspect of eating.
                                                      • Choice of foods: Although you’ve already chosen your food before you have begun eating, you can still take the opportunity to contemplate your choices. Think about the nutrients your body needs to sustain itself.
                                                      • Contemplating the sources: Most of us don’t think about all the work it takes to provide us with the food we eat. While you’re eating, consider all the work by the farmer, shipping company, and the grocery store. These are real people who worked hard to provide you with the food necessary for your survival.

                                                      You can find more tips about mindful eating here: 7 Simple Steps to Mindful Eating

                                                      Mindful Activities

                                                      Choose an activity that you perform regularly, such as washing dishes. Focus all your attention on this activity, and resist the temptation to let your mind wander,. When it does, just bring your attention back to washing dishes.

                                                      Notice some of the specific movements or sensations of washing dishes, such as how the soapy water feels on your hands, the circular motion of scrubbing the dish, or the rinsing. You’d be surprised at how such a mundane activity can truly expand your awareness.

                                                      You can choose any activity you like, such as ironing, folding clothes, mowing the lawn, or showering. Over time, you will begin doing all these activities with greater mindfulness.

                                                      Final Thoughts

                                                      Practicing mindfulness is like regularly putting small amounts of change in a jar. They will all add up over time, and this will add up to greater peace and happiness, as well as get you closer to achieving your goals.

                                                      Remember, you don’t have to do the mindfulness practices perfectly to get the benefits. All you have to do is keep bringing your mind back to the present moment when it wanders off.

                                                      Practicing mindfulness may be a bit challenging in the beginning, but I can assure you it will get easier.

                                                      The benefits of living in the moment are well within your reach, no matter how much your mind is racing. If you stick with these mindfulness practices, you too will learn how to live in the moment and stop worrying. When you do, a whole new world will open up for you. This is what Zen master Thich Nhat Hanh calls the ultimate reality.

                                                      More About Living in the Present

                                                      Featured photo credit: Smile Su via unsplash.com

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