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7 Scientific Self-Help Books That Will Transform Your Life

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7 Scientific Self-Help Books That Will Transform Your Life

I’m one of those weirdos that prefers reading non-fiction books over fiction books any day of the week — especially when it comes to books about leadership, success and self-help. It’s just my thing. My library is filled with books on how to build and sustain the habits necessary to live the happiest, healthiest, and wealthiest way of life I’m capable of living. And I can tell you without a shadow of doubt that reading these self-help books over the years has definitely transformed my life for the better… But you know what? Every now and then, I’d find myself in the middle of reading one of these books only to realize that it’s filled with nothing more than a bunch of pseudo-science mumbo jumbo disguised as the truth.

And quite frankly, I found this incredibly disturbing. Which is why I decided to put together this list of the 7 scientific self-help books that you can use to transform your life without worrying about whether what you’re reading is fact or fiction. Every book on this list contains information that is researched extensively and exhaustively beyond that of most every other book in the self-help genre. So, are you ready? Let’s dive in.

#1. Psycho-Cybernetics by Maxwell Maltz

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psycho-cybernetics

    The original scientific self-help book, written by a plastic surgeon who decided that he wanted to go deeper than aesthetics — he wanted to change people’s lives from the inside-out. Pick this one up for a primer on self-image psychology. Buy the book here.

    #2. Waking Up by Sam Harris

    samharris_wakingup

      If you’re curious about spirituality, but prefer not to attach your identity to any specific set of religious beliefs, then the scientific approach to spirituality set forth by neuroscientist Sam Harris in Waking Up could be just what you’ve been looking for. Buy the book here.

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      #3. The Power of Full Engagement by Jim Loehr and Tony Schwartz

      the-power-of-full-engagement

        The big idea behind this book is that our approach to stress management is all wrong — it’s not about managing our time — it’s about managing our energy. Once we can do that, we can begin finding the balance we seek both at work and at home. Buy the book here.

        #4. The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People by Stephen Covey

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        The_7_Habits_of_Highly_Effective_People

          No list self-improvement books of any kind is complete without The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People. If you had to choose just one single book to dramatically shift your personal development, this is the one you need to go with. Period. Buy the book here.

          #5. The ONE Thing by Gary Keller and Jay Papasan

          The One Thing Cover

            The ONE Thing is a book for anyone who needs crystal clear clarity on how to set and get goals. This book tells us that simplicity is the real secret to success, and it’s got the science to back it up. Buy the book here.

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            #6. Flow by Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi

            flow-cover

              This is a book about the science and psychology of “optimal experience” (translation: how to live the happiest, most enjoyable and fulfilling life possible). If you’re interested in learning about how it feels to use your greatest gifts, skills, and passions in a way that only YOU are capable of using them — then read this book.

              #7. The Power of Habit by Charles Duhigg

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              the-power-of-habit-book-summary

                In The Power of Habit, you’ll learn the in’s and out’s of habit-formation. In the book, author Charles Duhigg has sifted through the science and busted many commonly-held myths about habit-formation so that all you’re left with are actionable frameworks that you can put to use immediately to help you build lasting habits, and break bad ones. Buy the book here.

                Which book will you read first?

                Now that you’ve got this list of 7 scientific self-help books — there’s only one question left… Which one do you read first? Should you go out and get all of them immediately? Should you read them all at once? So many options. So little time. Ultimately, it’s totally your decision what you do with this list and how you apply it to your life and career. But if I may, here’s what I would suggest you consider as you get started:

                • Subscribe to a book summary site, like FlashNotes Book Summaries to get the key-takeaways from the books on this list.
                • If you’d prefer to read an entire book, I would highly suggest that you read just ONE book at a time. Sometimes, when we see something new and exciting, we have tendency to want to do/learn/read it all at once… and as we all know, this is nearly impossible to do without stressing ourselves out. So, choose a book. And then commit to reading it from start to finish.
                • If you’re in a rush, try Audio books, or Audible Book Summaries.
                • Finally, if you’re in a super rush, checkout some YouTube video book summaries, like this one.

                More by this author

                Dean Bokhari

                Author, Entrepreneur, Podcast & TV Host

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                Last Updated on July 20, 2021

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

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                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:

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                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.

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                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.

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                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.

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                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:

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                • 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

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