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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 August 12, 2020

                                                    When Should You Trust Your Gut and How?

                                                    When Should You Trust Your Gut and How?

                                                    Learning how to trust your gut, otherwise known as your intuition, can keep you safe. Your gut can guide you and help you build your confidence and resilience. My own gut instinct has saved me on more than one occasion. It has also guided me into making sound career choices and other exciting, big decisions. I’m also aware of the times when I’ve gone against my instincts and really regretted it later, wondering why I didn’t tune in to that valuable internal voice that we all have within us.

                                                    In this article, we’re going to explore why and how you should listen to your gut, as well as some concrete tips on how to make sure you’re making the most out of your gut instincts.

                                                    How to Listen to Your Gut

                                                    The key when making any big decision is to always take a minute to listen well to yourself and your inner compass. If you hear your actual voice saying yes while inside you’re silently screaming no, my advice is to ask for some time to think, or simply take a breath and pause before the yes or no escapes your mouth.

                                                    Use that moment to breathe, check in with yourself, and give the answer that feels congruent with who you are and what you want, not the one that always involves following the herd. Trusting your gut means having the courage to not simply go with the majority. It can be about holding your own. Here’s how to hone that skill for yourself and reap the rewards.

                                                    1. Tune Into Your Body

                                                    Your body gives you clues when you’re faced with a big decision. There are many visible and obvious symptoms that we feel in uncomfortable situations. Our body’s reaction is often something that we might try to hide, for example, blushing, being lost for words, or shaking. There are things we might do to try and hide that physical reaction, whether it’s wearing makeup, having a glass of wine or coffee to perk us up a bit, or learning to control our nerves.

                                                    However, paying attention to your body when you experience these feelings of anxiety can teach you so much and help you to make sound choices. Some people will experience an actual “gut” feeling of stomach ache or indigestion in an uncomfortable situation.

                                                    Ask yourself what’s really going on here, and explore what is happening behind your body’s response to the situation. What can your reaction or instinct teach you? Understanding that can be a clue and can help you either learn something about yourself, the situation, or other people. The answers are often within us.

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                                                    Sometimes we’ll get this “something’s not right here” feeling and cannot quite put our finger on it or explain it. That can still be incredibly useful and really guide us away from danger, even if we don’t know the reason.

                                                    In his book, Blink, Malcolm Gladwell also argues this, making the point that sometimes our subconscious is better at processing the answer we need, and that we don’t necessarily need to take time to collect hours and hours of information to come to a reliable conclusion[1].

                                                    2. Ensure Your Head Is Clear Before Making a Decision

                                                    Energy, sleep, and good nutrition are so vital to nourishing our minds, as well as our bodies. There are times when your instinct could lead you astray, and one of these is when you are hungry, “hangry” (angry because you’re hungry!), tired, or anxious. If this is the case–and it may sound obvious–do consider sleeping or eating on it before making an important choice.

                                                    There is, in fact, a connection between our gut and our brain[2], which is where terms like “butterflies in the stomach” and “gut-wrenching” originate from. Stress and emotions can cause physical feelings, and ignoring them might do more harm than good.

                                                    3. Don’t Be Afraid to Say What You Think and Feel

                                                    Listening to your gut and really paying attention to it might involve standing up and being counted, calling something out, or taking a stand. As someone who works for myself, I’ve become used to following the less-travelled road, and that’s given me the chance to strike out on my own in other ways, too.

                                                    As they tell you in the planes, “put your own oxygen mask on first,” and part of that self-reliance is knowing what you really want and like and what is safe and good for you, including what resonates with your personal and business values. Making good decisions with this in mind means making choices that do not go against your own beliefs, even when it may mean taking a stand. This is part of trusting yourself and trusting your instincts.

                                                    This does not always mean taking the “safe” option, although keeping ourselves safe is an important part of the process. This is how we learn and grow, by following our own inner compass. When you do take risks, go outside of your comfort zone, or choose the less popular option, spending some time researching the facts can stand us in good stead, too.

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                                                    4. Do Your Research If Something Feels Off

                                                    As well as listening to our instincts, we can also back up the evidence for our chosen course of action before taking the leap. I had a gut feeling about the need for a learning and development network when I noticed my clients getting stuck with the same problems. I set up and now run such a network, but instead of simply going for it, without evidence, I followed up on my instinct with research.

                                                    Having confidence in your gut instinct through these kinds of tests can help to minimize your risks, as well as spur you on. It will encourage you to trust your gut again in the future and trust that you are an expert with foresight and experience. You are!

                                                    5. Challenge Your Assumptions

                                                    When you look at the assumptions your making, this could be the clue to mistakes you are making.

                                                    In order to check that our instincts are wise, we need to ask ourselves what blanks we might be filling in, either consciously or unconsciously. This is true not just when it comes to our own decision-making. It’s also true when we are listening to someone explain a problem or situation, and we’re about to jump in and give some advice. If we can learn to be aware of our own assumptions, we can become better listeners and better decision makers, too.

                                                    A useful tool to become more aware of your assumptions before making a final decision is simply to ask yourself, “What assumptions am I making about this situation or person?”

                                                    6. Educate Yourself on Unconscious Bias

                                                    Unconscious bias is something we all have, and it can trip us up big time!

                                                    There is a vital caveat to bear in mind when wondering about whether you can trust your gut and the feelings your body gives you, and that’s having an awareness of your unconscious bias. Understanding your own bias–which is hard to do because it literally does happen in our subconscious–can help you to make stronger, better, decisions instead of re-confirming your view of the world over and over again.

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                                                    Bias exists, and it’s part of the human condition. All of us have it, and it colors our decisions and can impact on our performance without us realizing.

                                                    Unconscious bias happens at a subconscious level in our brains. Our subconscious brain processes information so much faster than our conscious brain. Quick decisions we make in our subconscious are based on both our societal conditioning and how our families raised us.

                                                    Our brains process hundreds of thousands of pieces of information daily. We unconsciously categorize and format that information into patterns that feel familiar to us. Aspects such as gender, disability, class, sexuality, body shape and size, ethnicity, and what someone does for a job can all quickly influence decisions we make about people and the relationships we choose to form. Our unconscious bias can be very subtle and go unnoticed..

                                                    We naturally tend to gravitate towards people similar to ourselves, favoring people who we see as belonging to the same “group” as us. Being able to make a quick decision about whether someone is part of your group and distinguish friend from foe was what helped early humans to survive. Conversely, we don’t automatically favor people who we don’t immediately relate to or easily connect with.

                                                    The downside of that human instinct to seek out similar people is the potential for prejudice, which seems to be hard-wired into human cognition, no matter how open-minded we believe ourselves to be. And these stereotypes we create can be wrong. If we only spend our time with and employ people similar to ourselves, it can create prejudices, as well as stifle fresh thinking and innovation.

                                                    We may feel more natural or comfortable working with other people who share our own background and/or opinions than collaborating with people who don’t look, talk, or think like us. However, diversity is not just morally right; having a mix of different people and perspectives that can be genuinely heard is also a valuable way to counter groupthink. Diversity stretches us to think more critically and creatively.

                                                    7. Trust Yourself

                                                    It is possible to learn how to truly trust yourself[3]. Like any talent or skill, practicing trusting your gut is the best way to get really good at it. When people talk about having great intuition or being good decision-makers, it’s because they’ve worked at honing those skills, made mistakes, learned from them, and tried again.

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                                                    Looking back at decisions you’ve made, what you did, what the outcome was, and what you’ve learned can help you become a stronger decision maker and develop solid self-trust and resilience. Making a mistake does not mean you are not great at decision-making; it’s a chance to grow and learn, and the only mistake is to ignore the lesson in that experience.

                                                    If you are in the habit of asking others for their input, then the trick here is to choose your inner circle wisely. Having a sounding board of people who have your best interests at heart is a valuable asset, and, combined with your own excellent instincts, can make you a champion decision maker.

                                                    The Bottom Line

                                                    The above tips are all actionable and easy to start immediately. It’s simply about switching your thinking around, slowing down, and taking great care of this amazing machine that is your body and mind!

                                                    Learning how to trust your gut is one of the most fundamental ways to make decisions that will help you lead the life you want and need. Tune into what your body is telling you and start making good decisions today.

                                                    More Tips on How to Trust Your Gut

                                                    Featured photo credit: Acy Varlan via unsplash.com

                                                    Reference

                                                    [1] Science of People: Learn to Trust Your Gut Instincts: The Science Behind Thin-slicing
                                                    [2] Harvard Health Publishing: The gut-brain connection
                                                    [3] Psych Central: 3 Ways to Develop Self-Trust

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