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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 May 21, 2019

                                                    How to Communicate Effectively in Any Relationship

                                                    How to Communicate Effectively in Any Relationship

                                                    For all our social media bravado, we live in a society where communication is seen less as an art, and more as a perfunctory exercise. We spend so much time with people, yet we struggle with how to meaningfully communicate.

                                                    If you believe you have mastered effective communication, scan the list below and see whether you can see yourself in any of the examples:

                                                    Example 1

                                                    You are uncomfortable with a person’s actions or comments, and rather than telling the individual immediately, you sidestep the issue and attempt to move on as though the offending behavior or comment never happened.

                                                    You move on with the relationship and develop a pattern of not addressing challenging situations. Before long, the person with whom you are in relationship will say or do something that pushes you over the top and predictably, you explode or withdraw completely from the relationship.

                                                    In this example, hard-to-speak truths become never- expressed truths that turn into resentment and anger.

                                                    Example 2

                                                    You communicate from the head and without emotion. While what you communicate makes perfect sense to you, it comes across as cold because it lacks emotion.

                                                    People do not understand what motivates you to say what you say, and without sharing your feelings and emotions, others experience you as rude, cold or aggressive.

                                                    You will know this is a problem if people shy away from you, ignore your contributions in meetings or tell you your words hurt. You can also know you struggle in this area if you find yourself constantly apologizing for things you have said.

                                                    Example 3

                                                    You have an issue with one person, but you communicate your problem to an entirely different person.

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                                                    The person in whom you confide lacks the authority to resolve the matter troubling you, and while you have vented and expressed frustration, the underlying challenge is unresolved.

                                                    Example 4

                                                    You grew up in a family with destructive communication habits and those habits play out in your current relationships.

                                                    Because you have never stopped to ask why you communicate the way you do and whether your communication style still works, you may lack understanding of how your words impact others and how to implement positive change.

                                                    If you find yourself in any of the situations described above, this article is for you.

                                                    Communication can build or decimate worlds and it is important we get it right. Regardless of your professional aspirations or personal goals, you can improve your communication skills if you:

                                                    • Understand your own communication style
                                                    • Tailor your style depending on the needs of the audience
                                                    • Communicate with precision and care
                                                    • Be mindful of your delivery, timing and messenger

                                                    1. Understand Your Communication Style

                                                    To communicate effectively, you must understand the communication legacy passed down from our parents, grandparents or caregivers. Each of us grew up with spoken and unspoken rules about communication.

                                                    In some families, direct communication is practiced and honored. In other families, family members are encouraged to shy away from difficult conversations. Some families appreciate open and frank dialogue and others do not. Other families practice silence about substantive matters, that is, they seldom or rarely broach difficult conversations at all.

                                                    Before you can appreciate the nuance required in communication, it helps to know the familial patterns you grew up with.

                                                    2. Learn Others Communication Styles

                                                    Communicating effectively requires you to take a step back, assess the intended recipient of your communication and think through how the individual prefers to be communicated with. Once you know this, you can tailor your message in a way that increases the likelihood of being heard. This also prevents you from assuming the way you communicate with one group is appropriate or right for all groups or people.

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                                                    If you are unsure how to determine the styles of the groups or persons with whom you are interacting, you can always ask them:

                                                    “How do you prefer to receive information?”

                                                    This approach requires listening, both to what the individuals say as well as what is unspoken. Virgin Group CEO Richard Branson noted that the best communicators are also great listeners.

                                                    To communicate effectively from relationship to relationship and situation to situation, you must understand the communication needs of others.

                                                    3. Exercise Precision and Care

                                                    A recent engagement underscored for me the importance of exercising care when communicating.

                                                    On a recent trip to Ohio, I decided to meet up with an old friend to go for a walk. As we strolled through the soccer park, my friend gently announced that he had something to talk about, he was upset with me. His introduction to the problem allowed me to mentally shift gears and prepare for the conversation.

                                                    Shortly after introducing the shift in conversation, my friend asked me why I didn’t invite him to the launch party for my business. He lives in Ohio and I live in the D.C. area.

                                                    I explained that the event snuck up on me, and I only started planning the invite list three weeks before the event. Due to the last-minute nature of the gathering, I opted to invite people in the DMV area versus my friends from outside the area – I didn’t want to be disrespectful by asking them to travel on such short notice.

                                                    I also noted that I didn’t want to be disappointed if he and others declined to come to the event. So I played it safe in terms of inviting people who were local.

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                                                    In the moment, I felt the conversation went very well. I also checked in with my friend a few days after our walk, affirmed my appreciation for his willingness to communicate his upset and our ability to work through it.

                                                    The way this conversation unfolded exemplified effective communication. My friend approached me with grace and vulnerability. He approached me with a level of curiosity that didn’t put me on my heels — I was able to really listen to what he was saying, apologize for how my decision impacted him and vow that going forward, I would always ask rather than making decisions for him and others.

                                                    Our relationship is intact, and I now have information that will help me become a better friend to him and others.

                                                    4. Be Mindful of Delivery, Timing and Messenger

                                                    Communicating effectively also requires thinking through the delivery of the message one intends to communicate as well as the appropriate time for the discussion.

                                                    In an Entrepreneur.com column, VIP Contributor Deep Patel, noted that persons interested in communicating well need to master the art of timing. Patel noted,[1]

                                                    “Great comedians, like all great communicators, are able to feel out their audience to determine when to move on to a new topic or when to reiterate an idea.”

                                                    Communicating effectively also requires thoughtfulness about the messenger. A person prone to dramatic, angry outbursts should never be called upon to deliver constructive feedback, especially to people whom they do not know. The immediate aftermath of a mass shooting is not the ideal time to talk about the importance of the Second Amendment rights.

                                                    Like everyone else, I must work to ensure my communication is layered with precision and care.

                                                    It requires precision because words must be carefully tailored to the person with whom you are speaking.

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                                                    It requires intentionality because before one communicates, one should think about the audience and what the audience needs in order to hear your message the way you intended it to be communicated.

                                                    It requires active listening which is about hearing verbal and nonverbal messages.

                                                    Even though we may be right in what we say, how we say it could derail the impact of the message and the other parties’ ability to hear the message.

                                                    Communicating with care is also about saying things that the people in our life need to hear and doing so with love.

                                                    The Bottom Line

                                                    When I left the meeting with my dear friend, I wondered if I was replicating or modeling this level of openness and transparency in the rest of my relationships.

                                                    I was intrigued and appreciative. He’d clearly thought about what he wanted to say to me, picked the appropriate time to share his feedback and then delivered it with care. He hit the ball out of the park and I’m hopeful we all do the same.

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                                                    Featured photo credit: Kenan Buhic via unsplash.com

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