Advertising

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

Advertising
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.

            Advertising

            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.”

                      Advertising

                      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.

                                Advertising

                                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.

                                          Advertising

                                          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.

                                                    Advertising

                                                    Featured photo credit: kshelton via pixabay.com

                                                    More by this author

                                                    tackling self esteem One Solid Practice for Tackling Low Self-Esteem banksy street art 15 Life Lessons From Banksy Street Art That Will Leave You Lost For Words self-improvement books 25 Self-Improvement Books That Will Make You A Better Person stick new habit 4 Reasons You Just Can’t Stick With A New Habit 8 Fall-Themed Wedding Favors to Delight Your Guests

                                                    Trending in Communication

                                                    1 10 Signs You Are in a Codependent Relationship (And What To Do About It) 2 I Want To Be Happy: 7 Science-Backed Ways to Find Happiness 3 13 Ways Happy People Think and Feel Differently 4 10 Morning Habits Of Happy People 5 What Makes People Happy? 20 Secrets of “Always Happy” People

                                                    Read Next

                                                    Advertising
                                                    Advertising

                                                    Last Updated on July 20, 2021

                                                    How to Overcome the Fear of Public Speaking (A Step-by-Step Guide)

                                                    Advertising
                                                    How to Overcome the Fear of Public Speaking (A Step-by-Step Guide)

                                                    You’re standing behind the curtain, just about to make your way on stage to face the many faces half-shrouded in darkness in front of you. As you move towards the spotlight, your body starts to feel heavier with each step. A familiar thump echoes throughout your body – your heartbeat has gone off the charts.

                                                    Don’t worry, you’re not the only one with glossophobia(also known as speech anxiety or the fear of speaking to large crowds). Sometimes, the anxiety happens long before you even stand on stage.

                                                    Your body’s defence mechanism responds by causing a part of your brain to release adrenaline into your blood – the same chemical that gets released as if you were being chased by a lion.

                                                    Here’s a step-by-step guide to help you overcome your fear of public speaking:

                                                    1. Prepare yourself mentally and physically

                                                    According to experts, we’re built to display anxiety and to recognize it in others. If your body and mind are anxious, your audience will notice. Hence, it’s important to prepare yourself before the big show so that you arrive on stage confident, collected and ready.

                                                    “Your outside world is a reflection of your inside world. What goes on in the inside, shows on the outside.” – Bob Proctor

                                                    Exercising lightly before a presentation helps get your blood circulating and sends oxygen to the brain. Mental exercises, on the other hand, can help calm the mind and nerves. Here are some useful ways to calm your racing heart when you start to feel the butterflies in your stomach:

                                                    Warming up

                                                    If you’re nervous, chances are your body will feel the same way. Your body gets tense, your muscles feel tight or you’re breaking in cold sweat. The audience will notice you are nervous.

                                                    If you observe that this is exactly what is happening to you minutes before a speech, do a couple of stretches to loosen and relax your body. It’s better to warm up before every speech as it helps to increase the functional potential of the body as a whole. Not only that, it increases muscle efficiency, improves reaction time and your movements.

                                                    Here are some exercises to loosen up your body before show time:

                                                    Advertising

                                                    1. Neck and shoulder rolls – This helps relieve upper body muscle tension and pressure as the rolls focus on rotating the head and shoulders, loosening the muscle. Stress and anxiety can make us rigid within this area which can make you feel agitated, especially when standing.
                                                    2. Arm stretches – We often use this part of our muscles during a speech or presentation through our hand gestures and movements. Stretching these muscles can reduce arm fatigue, loosen you up and improve your body language range.
                                                    3. Waist twists – Place your hands on your hips and rotate your waist in a circular motion. This exercise focuses on loosening the abdominal and lower back regions which is essential as it can cause discomfort and pain, further amplifying any anxieties you may experience.

                                                    Stay hydrated

                                                    Ever felt parched seconds before speaking? And then coming up on stage sounding raspy and scratchy in front of the audience? This happens because the adrenaline from stage fright causes your mouth to feel dried out.

                                                    To prevent all that, it’s essential we stay adequately hydrated before a speech. A sip of water will do the trick. However, do drink in moderation so that you won’t need to go to the bathroom constantly.

                                                    Try to avoid sugary beverages and caffeine, since it’s a diuretic – meaning you’ll feel thirstier. It will also amplify your anxiety which prevents you from speaking smoothly.

                                                    Meditate

                                                    Meditation is well-known as a powerful tool to calm the mind. ABC’s Dan Harris, co-anchor of Nightline and Good Morning America weekend and author of the book titled10% Happier , recommends that meditation can help individuals to feel significantly calmer, faster.

                                                    Meditation is like a workout for your mind. It gives you the strength and focus to filter out the negativity and distractions with words of encouragement, confidence and strength.

                                                    Mindfulness meditation, in particular, is a popular method to calm yourself before going up on the big stage. The practice involves sitting comfortably, focusing on your breathing and then bringing your mind’s attention to the present without drifting into concerns about the past or future – which likely includes floundering on stage.

                                                    Here’s a nice example of guided meditation before public speaking:

                                                    2. Focus on your goal

                                                    One thing people with a fear of public speaking have in common is focusing too much on themselves and the possibility of failure.

                                                    Do I look funny? What if I can’t remember what to say? Do I look stupid? Will people listen to me? Does anyone care about what I’m talking about?’

                                                    Instead of thinking this way, shift your attention to your one true purpose – contributing something of value to your audience.

                                                    Advertising

                                                    Decide on the progress you’d like your audience to make after your presentation. Notice their movements and expressions to adapt your speech to ensure that they are having a good time to leave the room as better people.

                                                    If your own focus isn’t beneficial and what it should be when you’re speaking, then shift it to what does. This is also key to establishing trust during your presentation as the audience can clearly see that you have their interests at heart.[1]

                                                    3. Convert negativity to positivity

                                                    There are two sides constantly battling inside of us – one is filled with strength and courage while the other is doubt and insecurities. Which one will you feed?

                                                    ‘What if I mess up this speech? What if I’m not funny enough? What if I forget what to say?’

                                                    It’s no wonder why many of us are uncomfortable giving a presentation. All we do is bring ourselves down before we got a chance to prove ourselves. This is also known as a self-fulfilling prophecy – a belief that comes true because we are acting as if it already is. If you think you’re incompetent, then it will eventually become true.

                                                    Motivational coaches tout that positive mantras and affirmations tend to boost your confidents for the moments that matter most. Say to yourself: “I’ll ace this speech and I can do it!”

                                                    Take advantage of your adrenaline rush to encourage positive outcome rather than thinking of the negative ‘what ifs’.

                                                    Here’s a video of Psychologist Kelly McGonigal who encourages her audience to turn stress into something positive as well as provide methods on how to cope with it:

                                                    4. Understand your content

                                                    Knowing your content at your fingertips helps reduce your anxiety because there is one less thing to worry about. One way to get there is to practice numerous times before your actual speech.

                                                    Advertising

                                                    However, memorizing your script word-for-word is not encouraged. You can end up freezing should you forget something. You’ll also risk sounding unnatural and less approachable.

                                                    “No amount of reading or memorizing will make you successful in life. It is the understanding and the application of wise thought that counts.” – Bob Proctor

                                                    Many people unconsciously make the mistake of reading from their slides or memorizing their script word-for-word without understanding their content – a definite way to stress themselves out.

                                                    Understanding your speech flow and content makes it easier for you to convert ideas and concepts into your own words which you can then clearly explain to others in a conversational manner. Designing your slides to include text prompts is also an easy hack to ensure you get to quickly recall your flow when your mind goes blank.[2]

                                                    One way to understand is to memorize the over-arching concepts or ideas in your pitch. It helps you speak more naturally and let your personality shine through. It’s almost like taking your audience on a journey with a few key milestones.

                                                    5. Practice makes perfect

                                                    Like most people, many of us are not naturally attuned to public speaking. Rarely do individuals walk up to a large audience and present flawlessly without any research and preparation.

                                                    In fact, some of the top presenters make it look easy during showtime because they have spent countless hours behind-the-scenes in deep practice. Even great speakers like the late John F. Kennedy would spend months preparing his speech beforehand.

                                                    Public speaking, like any other skill, requires practice – whether it be practicing your speech countless of times in front of a mirror or making notes. As the saying goes, practice makes perfect!

                                                    6. Be authentic

                                                    There’s nothing wrong with feeling stressed before going up to speak in front of an audience.

                                                    Many people fear public speaking because they fear others will judge them for showing their true, vulnerable self. However, vulnerability can sometimes help you come across as more authentic and relatable as a speaker.

                                                    Advertising

                                                    Drop the pretence of trying to act or speak like someone else and you’ll find that it’s worth the risk. You become more genuine, flexible and spontaneous, which makes it easier to handle unpredictable situations – whether it’s getting tough questions from the crowd or experiencing an unexpected technical difficulty.

                                                    To find out your authentic style of speaking is easy. Just pick a topic or issue you are passionate about and discuss this like you normally would with a close family or friend. It is like having a conversation with someone in a personal one-to-one setting. A great way to do this on stage is to select a random audience member(with a hopefully calming face) and speak to a single person at a time during your speech. You’ll find that it’s easier trying to connect to one person at a time than a whole room.

                                                    With that said, being comfortable enough to be yourself in front of others may take a little time and some experience, depending how comfortable you are with being yourself in front of others. But once you embrace it, stage fright will not be as intimidating as you initially thought.

                                                    Presenters like Barack Obama are a prime example of a genuine and passionate speaker:

                                                    7. Post speech evaluation

                                                    Last but not the least, if you’ve done public speaking and have been scarred from a bad experience, try seeing it as a lesson learned to improve yourself as a speaker.

                                                    Don’t beat yourself up after a presentation

                                                    We are the hardest on ourselves and it’s good to be. But when you finish delivering your speech or presentation, give yourself some recognition and a pat on the back.

                                                    You managed to finish whatever you had to do and did not give up. You did not let your fears and insecurities get to you. Take a little more pride in your work and believe in yourself.

                                                    Improve your next speech

                                                    As mentioned before, practice does make perfect. If you want to improve your public speaking skills, try asking someone to film you during a speech or presentation. Afterwards, watch and observe what you can do to improve yourself next time.

                                                    Here are some questions you can ask yourself after every speech:

                                                    Advertising

                                                    • How did I do?
                                                    • Are there any areas for improvement?
                                                    • Did I sound or look stressed?
                                                    • Did I stumble on my words? Why?
                                                    • Was I saying “um” too often?
                                                    • How was the flow of the speech?

                                                    Write everything you observed down and keep practicing and improving. In time, you’ll be able to better manage your fears of public speaking and appear more confident when it counts.

                                                    If you want even more tips about public speaking or delivering a great presentation, check out these articles too:

                                                    Reference

                                                    Read Next