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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 January 15, 2021

                                                    7 Ways To Have More Confident Body Language

                                                    7 Ways To Have More Confident Body Language

                                                    The popular idiomatic saying that “actions speak louder than words” has been around for centuries, but even to this day, most people struggle with at least one area of nonverbal communication. Consequently, many of us aspire to have more confident body language but don’t have the knowledge and tools necessary to change what are largely unconscious behaviors.

                                                    Given that others’ perceptions of our competence and confidence are predominantly influenced by what we do with our faces and bodies, it’s important to develop greater self-awareness and consciously practice better posture, stance, eye contact, facial expressions, hand movements, and other aspects of body language.

                                                    Posture

                                                    First things first: how is your posture? Let’s start with a quick self-assessment of your body.

                                                    • Are your shoulders slumped over or rolled back in an upright posture?
                                                    • When you stand up, do you evenly distribute your weight or lean excessively to one side?
                                                    • Does your natural stance place your feet relatively shoulder-width apart or are your feet and legs close together in a closed-off position?
                                                    • When you sit, does your lower back protrude out in a slumped position or maintain a straight, spine-friendly posture in your seat?

                                                    All of these are important considerations to make when evaluating and improving your posture and stance, which will lead to more confident body language over time. If you routinely struggle with maintaining good posture, consider buying a posture trainer/corrector, consulting a chiropractor or physical therapist, stretching daily, and strengthening both your core and back muscles.

                                                    Facial Expressions

                                                    Are you prone to any of the following in personal or professional settings?

                                                    • Bruxism (tight, clenched jaw or grinding teeth)
                                                    • Frowning and/or furrowing brows
                                                    • Avoiding direct eye contact and/or staring at the ground

                                                    If you answered “yes” to any of these, then let’s start by examining various ways in which you can project confident body language through your facial expressions.

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                                                    1. Understand How Others Perceive Your Facial Expressions

                                                    A December 2020 study by UC Berkeley and Google researchers utilized a deep neural network to analyze facial expressions in six million YouTube clips representing people from over 140 countries. The study found that, despite socio-cultural differences, people around the world tended to use about 70% of the same facial expressions in response to different emotional stimuli and situations.[1]

                                                    The study’s researchers also published a fascinating interactive map to demonstrate how their machine learning technology assessed various facial expressions and determined subtle differences in emotional responses.

                                                    This study highlights the social importance of facial expressions because whether or not we’re consciously aware of them—by gazing into a mirror or your screen on a video conferencing platform—how we present our faces to others can have tremendous impacts on their perceptions of us, our confidence, and our emotional states. This awareness is the essential first step towards

                                                    2. Relax Your Face

                                                    New research on bruxism and facial tension found the stresses and anxieties of Covid-19 lockdowns led to considerable increases in orofacial pain, jaw-clenching, and teeth grinding, particularly among women.[2]

                                                    The National Institute of Dental and Craniofacial Research estimates that more than 10 million Americans alone have temporomandibular joint dysfunction (TMJ syndrome), and facial tension can lead to other complications such as insomnia, wrinkles, dry skin, and dark, puffy bags under your eyes.[3])

                                                    To avoid these unpleasant outcomes, start practicing progressive muscle relaxation techniques and taking breaks more frequently throughout the day to moderate facial tension.[4] You should also try out some biofeedback techniques to enhance your awareness of involuntary bodily processes like facial tension and achieve more confident body language as a result.[5]

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                                                    3. Improve Your Eye Contact

                                                    Did you know there’s an entire subfield of kinesic communication research dedicated to eye movements and behaviors called oculesics?[6] It refers to various communication behaviors including direct eye contact, averting one’s gaze, pupil dilation/constriction, and even frequency of blinking. All of these qualities can shape how other people perceive you, which means that eye contact is yet another area of nonverbal body language that we should be more mindful of in social interactions.

                                                    The ideal type (direct/indirect) and duration of eye contact depends on a variety of factors, such as cultural setting, differences in power/authority/age between the parties involved, and communication context. Research has shown that differences in the effects of eye contact are particularly prominent when comparing East Asian and Western European/North American cultures.[7]

                                                    To improve your eye contact with others, strive to maintain consistent contact for at least 3 to 4 seconds at a time, consciously consider where you’re looking while listening to someone else, and practice eye contact as much as possible (as strange as this may seem in the beginning, it’s the best way to improve).

                                                    3. Smile More

                                                    There are many benefits to smiling and laughing, and when it comes to working on more confident body language, this is an area that should be fun, low-stakes, and relatively stress-free.

                                                    Smiling is associated with the “happiness chemical” dopamine and the mood-stabilizing hormone, serotonin. Many empirical studies have shown that smiling generally leads to positive outcomes for the person smiling, and further research has shown that smiling can influence listeners’ perceptions of our confidence and trustworthiness as well.

                                                    4. Hand Gestures

                                                    Similar to facial expressions and posture, what you do with your hands while speaking or listening in a conversation can significantly influence others’ perceptions of you in positive or negative ways.

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                                                    It’s undoubtedly challenging to consciously account for all of your nonverbal signals while simultaneously trying to stay engaged with the verbal part of the discussion, but putting in the effort to develop more bodily awareness now will make it much easier to unconsciously project more confident body language later on.

                                                    5. Enhance Your Handshake

                                                    In the article, “An Anthropology of the Handshake,” University of Copenhagen social anthropology professor Bjarke Oxlund assessed the future of handshaking in wake of the Covid-19 pandemic:[8]

                                                    “Handshakes not only vary in function and meaning but do so according to social context, situation and scale. . . a public discussion should ensue on the advantages and disadvantages of holding on to the tradition of shaking hands as the conventional gesture of greeting and leave-taking in a variety of circumstances.”

                                                    It’s too early to determine some of the ways in which Covid-19 has permanently changed our social norms and professional etiquette standards, but it’s reasonable to assume that handshaking may retain its importance in American society even after this pandemic. To practice more confident body language in the meantime, the video on the science of the perfect handshake below explains what you need to know.

                                                    6. Complement Your Verbals With Hand Gestures

                                                    As you know by now, confident communication involves so much more than simply smiling more or sounding like you know what you’re talking about. What you do with your hands can be particularly influential in how others perceive you, whether you’re fidgeting with an object, clenching your fists, hiding your hands in your pockets, or calmly gesturing to emphasize important points you’re discussing.

                                                    Social psychology researchers have found that “iconic gestures”—hand movements that appear to be meaningfully related to the speaker’s verbal content—can have profound impacts on listeners’ information retention. In other words, people are more likely to engage with you and remember more of what you said when you speak with complementary hand gestures instead of just your voice.[9]

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                                                    Further research on hand gestures has shown that even your choice of the left or right hand for gesturing can influence your ability to clearly convey information to listeners, which supports the notion that more confident body language is readily achievable through greater self-awareness and deliberate nonverbal actions.[10]

                                                    Final Takeaways

                                                    Developing better posture, enhancing your facial expressiveness, and practicing hand gestures can vastly improve your communication with other people. At first, it will be challenging to consciously practice nonverbal behaviors that many of us are accustomed to performing daily without thinking about them.

                                                    If you ever feel discouraged, however, remember that there’s no downside to consistently putting in just a little more time and effort to increase your bodily awareness. With the tips and strategies above, you’ll be well on your way to embracing more confident body language and amplifying others’ perceptions of you in no time.

                                                    More Tips on How to Develop a Confident Body Language

                                                    Featured photo credit: Maria Lupan via unsplash.com

                                                    Reference

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