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20 Art Therapy Activities You Can Try At Home To Destress

20 Art Therapy Activities You Can Try At Home To Destress

“Art washes away from the soul the dust of everyday life.” – Pablo Picasso

Art therapy is a broad term used to refer to the practice of creating as a way to heal wounds of the mind or spirit. While art therapists are employed with increasing frequency at hospitals, nursing homes, in schools, and in treatment programs for a wide swatch of ailments, the rejuvenating, stress-busting results of such a practice are something we can all benefit from.

Invite your creative side out to dance with these 20 art therapy ideas you can pursue at home:

Design a postcard.

http://chelswireart.blogspot.com/2011/04/art-therapy-without-borders.html

    Have something to say? Give your words extra dimension by literally decorating them yourself. Writing to a person who caused you pain? Consider burning or otherwise destroying the postcard when you’re finished, as a symbol of your decision to move forward. Have the need to send it, but don’t want to invite them back into your life? Mail your anonymous thoughts to Post Secret.

    Give thanks with cards of your own.

    TY card

      Focus on words and thoughts of gratitude, of your own design. Pick up a stack of blank cards and envelopes at a paper or craft store, or simply embellish a pre-made card. Consider offering thanks to those helping you through current troubles, or those who have helped you in the past. Already said “thanks” in person? A card is nice way to let folks know that they made a lasting impact.

      Cut and paste a collage.

      Collage

        Not sure what to do with those advertisements and circulars scattered around the house? Take a pair of scissors to them, and let your imagination run wild. If you are seeking encouragement in a particular area – love, finances, body image, and so on – zero in on images that cause you to feel uplifted and positive, or ones that embody your goals. Use them as pieces of the larger puzzle of both your collage and healing.

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        Make a digital collage.

        Digital collage

          Short on art supplies, or simply more of a computer person? Fire up your laptop, and download one of many free collage programs. You can create a collage from your own photographs and memories, or conduct an online search to find images that resonate with you. Programs such as Photoshop will provide the most options, but more rudimentary programs such as Photoshop Elements, PowerPoint or some Adobe platforms offer enough for a first effort.

          Draw in response to music.

          Music drawing

            Music is a form of art that is often said to move souls. Energize, relax, and otherwise give attention to yours by simply putting a pen or pencil to paper and moving it as the rhythm dictates. Sharp, staccato music may prompt you to draw jagged edges or bold lines; softer rhythms may encourage you to draw waves. Instrumental music is generally a more effective stress-buster than music with lyrics, because the mind is allowed to relax without distraction. If more formalized or finite images begin to emerge, allow it – the point of the exercise is to allow for creation without expectation or restraint.

            Bring a motivational message to a colorful life.

            Visual Journaling

              Do you have a phrase or saying that makes you feel uplifted?  Cut the words out of magazines and arrange an encouraging display. Don’t have a “go to” phrase? Find generic words, such as “happy,” “joy,” “inspire,” and start with a general display of words. Crack open old journals for inspiration, or start a new art journal for your new creations.

              Move those magnetic words around.

              Fridge art

                There is art in manipulating the written word, too. Tap into your inner poet and give yourself something nice to read every time you open the refrigerator door, with fridge art. A box of words can be rearranged in a seemingly infinite number of combinations. For only a few dollars, pick up boxes with theme-based verbiage, or boxes that include graphic images. Running low on inspiration?   Post a poem or story that resonates with you – just because someone else is the author, doesn’t mean you can’t still reap the relaxing rewards.

                Bedazzle the box.

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                Box

                  Most of us have a box of memorabilia tucked away somewhere (or bits of memorabilia scattered everywhere). Get organized and give your treasures a facelift by literally decorating the box you keep them in. Decor can be specific to a set of memories or time period, or more general. Decorating a box is also a great way to add to a time capsule or memory box given as a gift.

                  Create an affirmation you can carry with you.

                  wearable

                    Gain a more frequent boost from your art therapy efforts by creating a product that you can literally carry with you. Whether it’s a piece of jewelry, an article of clothing, or a key chain, choose images, words, and colors that remind you of how and what you want to feel. Not sure how to begin? Attend a class at a local craft store or gallery to get the creative juices flowing and brush up on techniques.

                    Brighten up old clothing.

                    pattern clothing

                      Working through feelings of unworthiness or low self-esteem? Wish you had the budget to completely overhaul your wardrobe? Get thee to the craft store! Spend $20-$50 on beads, bows, even a bedazzler, and give items you already own an update worthy of fabulous you. Have a bit more to spend, and already know your way around the business end of a sewing machine? Pick up a pattern for a new item of clothing, or a book on an easy-to-learn craft, such as knitting.

                      Color it real.

                      Chart

                        Your feelings, that is. Select colored pencils in accordance with what draws you the most, then check out how they correspond to this chart. Don’t overanalyze or think too much about what your choices might “mean.” By taking a second look at your art after it is created, you may gain valuable insight into your underlying feelings.

                        Map out your heart.

                        heart map

                          At a loss for a place to start with art therapy? Go to the source, and a draw a picture of your heart – literally. Fill in the shape with images of the things you desire, dream of, and love.You can find photos, or simply assign a colored section to each corresponding desire. However you do it, your heart will be full both literally and figuratively by the time you finish this exercise.

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                          Capture pain in chalk…

                          Chalk - featured

                            …then wash it away. While one purpose of art therapy is to purge the mind and heart of negative, past, or unwanted emotions, it doesn’t make a lot of sense to create a permanent monument to such emotions. Resolve this dilemma by pouring out your thoughts in chalk. When you’re finished, anything you no longer wish to carry can be literally washed away.

                            Sculpt a better state.

                            play dough

                              Sculpturing doesn’t have to require a lot of space or materials. Make your own play-dough with a few simple ingredients (conduct a quick online search for a variety of recipes), then let your hands and your imagination soar. The malleable stuff is ideal for exploring emotions that you want to work through, without making permanent; anger can even be unleashed when you smash your creation flat. Ready to relax? Mix essential oils into the dough for some aromatherapy. Store leftovers in the fridge for use during your next session.

                              Give art therapy a hand.

                              hand art

                                Use fingerprints to create in a way that unlocks the child in all of us, and provides additional texture to explore. Or, trace your hand and use the colors and textures of your choice to illustrate the things you hope your hands will create. Really need to let loose? Dip your hands in paint and slap some prints on the paper! The release of energy may be just the healing you need.

                                Not feeling drawn to the more traditional arts?  Try one of these, and continue to reap the healing rewards:

                                Redecorate a room.

                                redecorate

                                  It is often said that healing occurs with even more speed and intensity when the external environment is adapted to facilitate and reflect healing. Burn off extra energy and adapt your environment to your needs by rearranging furniture, ridding your space of old things, and adding punches of uplifting color and texture. Remember to save room for vision boards, affirmations, and other products of your art therapy time.

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                                  Gather with friends, and create in public.

                                  Group art

                                    Hesitant to dive into the art world? Gather a group of friends and explore together. Art groups, like book clubs, meet regularly to explore different media and forms of expression at each gathering. Sound like too much of a commitment?  Studios are popping up around the country that allow groups to create under the guidance of an experienced teacher, while enjoying both wine and food at the same time.

                                    String prayer or meditation beads.

                                    Prayer beads

                                      Take a trip to a local craft store and select beads that appeal to you. Remember to grab line for your string and a clasp if desired; fishing line can also work in a pinch. The beads can be of similar shape and color pattern, or can be random. If you intend to carry your prayer beads with you, select beads that are small enough to fit into a pocket or purse. Not finding what you want? A specialty bead store may have more options.

                                      Rake the sand.

                                      Sand raking

                                        Whether you’re taking a fork to a plate of sand on your desk or hauling a truck full of tools to the beach, raking patterns is a good way to release emotions in an economical, non-permanent sense. Your creation can be a deliberate piece, or simply a series of geometric shapes that help you blow off steam. For an added shot of healing power, work on a large enough scale that the physical exertion required to wield your rake both calms and burns off excess energy or anxiety.

                                        Help something grow.

                                        Garden

                                          Gardening is an art form that employs plants as paint and your hands as tools. Whether you build your garden in a small tabletop bowl, or take over an entire hillside for your colorful creation, let your imagination soar. Don’t know much about plants? Spend some time at a local nursery and find out what grows best in your area, and what care requirements are realistic for you. Peruse local books or visit several plant sellers to gather ideas for your arrangement.

                                          Need some convincing that art therapy is a good choice for you?  Consider these 10 Things You Never Knew You Could Learn From Art.

                                          Featured photo credit: Chalk Drawings at Third Street via flickr.com

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                                          Last Updated on November 22, 2019

                                          25 Best Self Improvement Books to Read No Matter How Old You Are

                                          25 Best Self Improvement Books to Read No Matter How Old You Are

                                          I remember the first time I got my hands on a self-improvement book. I was baffled. At that moment, I realized my fate was not set in stone. I could become my own drill master and coach. The books I read would set out the training course for me to overcome. All I had to do was listen to that voice that aspired to climb higher and higher.

                                          Every time I committed to a new challenge, I knew it was going to be outside of my comfort zone. But after enough iterations, I also knew it will not just be part of my repertoire, it will be part of me.

                                          Not all self-improvement books are made equal. Some help start you out on your journey, others give you a boost when you’ve achieved experience in certain areas.

                                          Here are the best ones that I recommend to read no matter how old you are:

                                          1. Whatcha Gonna Do with That Duck? And Other Provocations

                                          by Seth Godin

                                            This book is a masterpiece, and unlike most self-improvement books, this one targets an infinite array of areas in which you can, and ultimately must, improve.

                                            With its ruthless honesty and genuine inspiration, Godin makes you ponder the difficult questions you wouldn’t ever dare to ask yourself. The result is a completely new perspective of the world- a fresher, more vibrant perspective, packed with new and bold possibilities.

                                            If you need a friend who understands you, a boss that forces you to venture deep in your non-comfort zone, a wise guru that tells you what needs to be left behind and a sage that proclaims the coming of a new age, then look no further; you will find these shrewd voices all tied together in this magnificent book. Make sure to get this one.

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                                            2. Fooled by Randomness: The Hidden Role of Chance in Life and in the Markets

                                            by Nassim Nicholas Taleb

                                              Perhaps it is the fact that randomness played such a significant role in my years as a poker player that I find this book utterly important.

                                              We often attribute skill where there is only luck; we confuse correlation with causation and we underestimate the incredible effect small changes can have.

                                              This book gave me a perspective that I unfortunately rarely encounter in others: you can do everything right and still lose, or do everything wrong and still win. It is thus not about the outcome; it is about your actions that have lead you there.

                                              This important message is central to many of my decisions I make in my life. This book by Taleb helps you develop such a perspective so you will be able to live in a world one cannot fully understand, where the results are not always clear markers of performance and where chance seems to play games with our fates. Stop being fooled by randomness!

                                              Print | eBook | Audiobook

                                              3. The 48 Laws of Power

                                              by Robert Greene

                                                I read this book in a time where I thought power was something I should attain. Power for power’s sake. And while I disagree with my former self on this point, the fact remains that power is very real, it forms the invisible scepter of all hierarchical relations around us.

                                                I still recommend this book. I believe it is important to know how people use power for their own benefit and what to do to protect yourself from certain abuses of power.

                                                Besides the fact that all stories in this book gravitate around power. It contains many life lessons, amazing historical anecdotes. If read in a certain light, the ability to use power for good.

                                                From Caesar to Goethe, Sun-Tzu to Machiavelli, this eye opening book spans a wide range of human development. If you, like me, would rather be interested in something less egotistical, perhaps Greene’s latest book Mastery will suffice (I haven’t read that one myself).

                                                Another great book in the same style, but this time around; covering a wider scope, and perhaps, something that will make the world make a better place.

                                                Print | eBook | Audiobook

                                                4. The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People: Powerful Lessons in Personal Change

                                                by Stephen. R. Covey

                                                  The title of this book doesn’t capture it all. Covey shares with us seven habits one should adapt to become truly effective in whatever you would like to achieve.

                                                  Of course, it is not as easy as it sounds. He stresses the fact that we need to go through a paradigm shift – a fundamental change in how we perceive the world and ourselves.

                                                  This book can be read as a guide, with practices and everything, to go through the stages in order to make such a shift happen. Part shock-therapy, part ageless spiritual wisdom, Covey’s book is packed with wisdom that actually makes a difference.

                                                  And as I mentioned, don’t let the title of the book fool you; it is about much more than just becoming more effective. It is about becoming a whole integer person who not only seeks the best in oneself, but also in the people around her.

                                                  A must read for anyone who feels there is always something left to learn.

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                                                  5. The Psychedelic Explorer’s Guide: Safe, Therapeutic, and Sacred Journeys

                                                  by James Fadiman

                                                    While finding a book on psychedelics in this list of books on self-improvement might come as a surprise, I believe any metaphysical distinction between tools such as books, meditation or molecules hold no ground. They should all be solely judged on their merits. And the merits of certain chemical keys, used in a constructive way, are perhaps bigger than any book in this list.

                                                    The Psychedelic Explorer’s Guide will teach you how to prepare yourself and your surroundings, what and how much to take, and what do do when something goes wrong. So you can safely enhance your thinking, creativity, introspection and emotional balance.

                                                    This book contains everything you need to know about using psychedelics as a tool for self-improvement while drawing on extensive scientific literature and personal wisdom. A must have for the beginning and experienced psychonaut alike.

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                                                    6.  Eat That Frog!: 21 Great Ways to Stop Procrastinating and Get More Done in Less Time

                                                    by Brian Tracy

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                                                      We all know how that destructive downward spiral feels.

                                                      We have to do some big tasks of which the thought alone triggers resistance. We aren’t sure how and where to begin and feeling overwhelmed before we even start. We get easily distracted to get rid of that feeling, only to suddenly realize that hours went by- precious hours- and then find ourselves in the same position as before, still not knowing where and how to begin, but now, feeling guilty on top of it which expresses itself in more craving for distraction.

                                                      Ad infinitum

                                                      To break this spell of procrastination before it paralyzes us, Tracy advises us to Eat That Frog: to set our priorities straight, deconstruct larger tasks into smaller ones, learn when to tackle the big frog first or to start out with something else.

                                                      Tracy is truly a motivational writer. While I wished he had gone a bit deeper into the psychological reasons why people procrastinate, it is still a must have for anyone who wants to break the spell and get shit done.

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                                                      7. Think and Grow Rich: The Original 1937 Unedited Edition

                                                      by Napoleon Hill

                                                        A from 1937, this book by Hill is a masterpiece. Don’t bother with the edited versions since they all omit important and controversial information: some historical, and some pertaining to the goal of the book, which is to think and grow rich.

                                                        The word rich might imply that this book is all about material gain, and while it certainly covers that area, it is about much more than that.

                                                        This is perhaps the first explicit mention of positive thinking on how to care not just about the cash in your pocket, but also the thoughts in your head.

                                                        This book has been able to withstand the destruction of time. It covers all the basics from planning, decision making and persistence, to the more advanced techniques as auto-suggestion, transmutation and what we can learn from fear.

                                                        This is not a grow rich book, but a timeless guide to find out what actually matters. As it says clearly in the beginning ‘Riches can’t always be measured in money!’

                                                        Print | eBook | Audiobook

                                                        8. The Attention Revolution: Unlocking the Power of the Focused Mind

                                                        by Alan Wallace

                                                          In a world that is dominated by ever stronger technologies designed to grab your attention, a way to empower yourself is to bring that attention back to where you want it to shine. This book offers just that.

                                                          In The Attention Revolution, Wallace describes the path to attaining Shamatha, a buddhist meditation state of mind that is free from any flickering of distraction. It is a hard and long path, probably not possible for us to reach in this lifetime. However, even getting to stage two or three will make everything in life easier.

                                                          A wonderful introduction to meditation, The Attention Revolution will inspire you to take on the challenge and see what training your mind can actually achieve.

                                                          Once you have achieved such level of focus, you can put it to use to open your heart with the practice of The Four Immeasurables or deepen the practice with this wonderful commentary by Dudjom Lingpa, both by Alan B. Wallace.

                                                          Before you read this book, you may want to take a look at this guide so you get a better idea on how to prioritize your life:

                                                          The Ultimate Guide to Prioritizing Your Work And Life

                                                          Print | eBook | Audiobook

                                                          9. The Paleo Manifesto: Ancient Wisdom for Lifelong Health

                                                          by John Durant

                                                            In the last 10,000 years or so, it seems we have been propelled into an ever faster paced world forged by our own hands and minds. Only recently have we been able to reconstruct our journey and reflect back upon our humble origins.

                                                            This amazing book is such a reflection. It goes back to the paleolithic searching for answers to health and longevity.

                                                            Between science and his personal experiments, Durant weaves a mind blowing story that will convey the importance of an evolutionary perspective on how to live well.

                                                            It covers everything from nutrition to exercise, from sleep to fasting, from ancient practices to modern biohacking and even has an outline for a vision of the future where depression and obesity have become obsolete.

                                                            If you only have room for a couple of books on this list, make sure this one is included.

                                                            Print | eBook | Audiobook

                                                            10. Mindsight: The New Science of Personal Transformation

                                                            by Daniel J. Siegel

                                                              As my Burmese meditation teacher often proclaimed, ‘Mindfulness alone is not enough!’ Siegel seems to have taken this to heart and made an unique synthesis between meditation, psychoanalysis and neuroscience which he calls ‘Mindsight‘. As he says himself, a potent combination between emotional and social intelligence.

                                                              All of us deal with one disorder or another, something that seems to disturb the very core of our being at ease; and while it might not always be the best strategy to want to get rid of it, it certainly helps to understand and have compassion for that little aspect that upsets that perfect image of ourselves.

                                                              Brimming with techniques, insights and epiphanies, this book contains everything you need to know to reprogram your brain and to optimally use its capacity of neuroplasticity. A great book for spiritual seekers and scientists alike.

                                                              Print | eBook | Audiobook

                                                              11. How to Win Friends & Influence People

                                                              by Dale Carnegie

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                                                                This is the first self-improvement book I have ever read and it is also probably one of the oldest in this category.

                                                                Written in 1937, mainly for the door to door salesman of that era, this book by Carnegie can truly be called a classic. It shows what we all intuitively know:

                                                                It doesn’t matter what your line of work is or what you want to achieve. If you are doing business of any kind, you need to make it about the other person.

                                                                Being nice helps, a lot. And while I might not fully defend the premise of this book because it doesn’t distinguish between genuine interest and faking it to get what you want; it still contains a treasure chest full of timeless wisdom.

                                                                Everybody wants to feel appreciated, and rightfully so. Learning to take a small effort to make someone’s day will make the world better no matter what your goal is.

                                                                I still spontaneously remember some of his guidance, and perhaps this quality is the reason why this book still draws millions of readers to this day.

                                                                Print | eBook | Audiobook

                                                                12. Feeling Good: The New Mood Therapy

                                                                by David D. Burns

                                                                  Cognitive Behavioral Therapy is the most effective therapy used by psychologists today. It consists of identifying thought patterns that have a detrimental effect on your self-image and mood; and deconstructing these in order to break out of these destructive cycles.

                                                                  If you want to know how this works, which moods are central in your life, what thought patterns are causing your depression, how to overcome self-judgment and guilt, how to defeat approval and love addiction and how your self-perfectionism is hindering you, then don’t look further.

                                                                  Cognitive Behavioral Therapy has helped millions of people and it can help you, and this is the best book for the job. Packed with scientific research, exercises and examples, this is the best improvement your self is going to get.

                                                                  Print | eBook | Audiobook

                                                                  13. Psycho-Cybernetics, A New Way to Get More Living Out of Life

                                                                  by Maxwell Maltz

                                                                    What can a plastic surgeon tell us about happiness?

                                                                    By dealing with his patients, Dr. Maxwell Maltz experienced firsthand that having your expectations come true doesn’t automatically result into a more positive life experience. Their outward appearances did indeed change but their inner insecurity remained.

                                                                    This caused him to find other means to help his patients, resulting in visualization techniques. He found a person’s outer success can never rise above the one visualized internally.

                                                                    This book carries a very honest and humbling story, loaded with fundamental truths about our psychology and how our own philosophy affects us. This is all told by a very compassionate writer.

                                                                    Of some books it can be said that it will be valuable for years to come, and I am absolutely positive that this is one of them.

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                                                                    14. Thinking, Fast and Slow

                                                                    by Daniel Kahneman

                                                                      This brilliant book by Nobel prize winner Daniel Kahneman is a lucid account of all the amazing research he has done over the years. He is the founder of behavioral economics – the way our psychology affects our decisions – and explains in simple prose how our thinking is divided in two systems: one fast and one slow. (Here’s an explanation on how these two systems work.)

                                                                      The fast one is almost instant; it consists of the hardwired instincts that govern emotions, a remnant of an evolutionary past, an unconscious irrational machine.

                                                                      The slow one is deliberate, self-reflexive and logical, but can easily be distracted and takes a lot of effort.

                                                                      Both play a large role in our lives and Kahneman explores when the fast system fails and why the slow system is often not utilized.

                                                                      Packed with mind blowing examples and sharp analyses, this book teaches you how to learn to make sound judgments, and use the best of both systems.

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                                                                      15. An Astronaut’s Guide to Life on Earth: What Going to Space Taught Me About Ingenuity, Determination, and Being Prepared for Anything

                                                                      by Chris Hadfield

                                                                        A few extraordinary people journey to the edge of our world and come back with a unique story to tell. Colonel Hadfield is such a person, and his story is perhaps the most important one in this list.

                                                                        While the other books in this list teach you to be independent, visualize your future and dream big, this astronaut’s guide turns these all upside down.

                                                                        A truly remarkable book, overflowing with mind-blowing stories that illustrate the life lessons he learned as one of the most accomplished astronauts that ever lived.

                                                                        Full of compassion, warmth and genuine self-reflexive humor, he conveys to us to be prepared for the worst and never let yourself be swayed from enjoying every moment.

                                                                        Part action story, part no-nonsense hard truth and part timeless spiritual wisdom, this book makes you feel like you stepped onto a rocket ship and experienced what he did while learning these most valuable lessons on the way.

                                                                        eBook

                                                                        16. Perfect Health Diet: Regain Health and Lose Weight by Eating the Way You Were Meant to Eat

                                                                        by Paul Jaminet & Shou-Ching Jaminet

                                                                          No self-improvement list is complete without a nutrition book and the Perfect Health Diet is arguably the best diet book on the market now.

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                                                                          If you are overweight or not, feel sick, or just looking for an extra boost in health (and keep it this way), then look no further.

                                                                          From reading decades of studies the authors construct the optimal way to eat, destroying popular food fads in the process. They explain in sufficient details the optimal macro-ratios of which starches are safe, which vitamins and supplements to take and what foods, or what they call toxins, to avoid.

                                                                          This book is a great supplement to the Paleo Manifesto as it shares its basic evolutionary perspective; we were evolved to eat non-toxic, high fat, moderate protein and carbohydrates.

                                                                          And sometimes, going around with no food at all, can be a very healthy thing. If your body is not in optimal health, then it is almost no use to read the other books. Make this your priority number one.

                                                                          Print | eBook | Audiobook

                                                                          17. Failing Forward: Turning Mistakes into Stepping Stones for Success

                                                                          by John C. Maxwell

                                                                            At one time or another, we will all fail. What matters most is how you deal with it once you do.

                                                                            Will you give up? Or will you use it as a stepping stone for success?

                                                                            I recently read an article about new start-ups in silicon valley. Its hypothesis was the more you had failed in the past, the more likely you were going to get funding.

                                                                            Why?

                                                                            Because failing teaches you invaluable lessons, and if you decide to continue after you hit the pavement, the more you have it in you to deliver.

                                                                            Now, this is not in anyway our instinctual reaction to failing. Most of us dread it, avoid it or refuse to fail at all costs. All three are by far sub-optimal. It is far better to accept failure where it arises, to accept responsibility and use it as a way to learn about yourself and your weaknesses.

                                                                            Only when you are absolute honest with yourself with respect to failure can you hope to grow. This wonderful book will teach you how to do exactly this. A honest book for everyone searching for a clean mirror.

                                                                            Print | eBook | Audiobook

                                                                            18. The Power of Now

                                                                            by Eckhart Tolle

                                                                              The Power of Now hardly needs any introduction. It is perhaps the book that has had the most impact on our collective consciousness in recent years.

                                                                              It inspired millions of people all over the world to live a more fulfilling and compassionate life, all through the practice of mindfulness. Mindfulness consists of moment to moment non-judgmental awareness. 

                                                                              It is a technique that alleviates depression, increases emotional intelligence and develops compassion. And only recently has come to the west, which remained weary and skeptical until science had validated a wide array of its claims.

                                                                              The brain can be trained. The Power of Now teaches you how to release your attachment to certain thoughts and states of mind, thereby clearing the mind to fully embrace the present moment.

                                                                              If you already have read this book and are looking for deeper understanding, readWherever You Go, There You Are.

                                                                              Print | eBook | Audiobook

                                                                              19. The Last Lecture

                                                                              by Randy Pausch

                                                                                At some point or another, almost all of us has come across The Last Lecture by Randy Pausch. (If you haven’t, watch this powerful message here.)

                                                                                What would you say when you only have a few months left to live? This was probably Pausch’s question he posed to himself when he had to deliver his lecture a week later.

                                                                                But being confined to an academic setting and short time frame, he felt he had more to share, thus marking the birth of this book.

                                                                                Filled with stories about his childhood, it is a very down to earth exploration of what it means to chase your dreams, to be a good person and live a life that gives value to others.

                                                                                A beautiful mixture of humor and optimism, his tender voice will be a source of inspiration for everyone who will take the time to listen, something he tried to impart on his readers.

                                                                                A very lovely read. And don’t forget, ‘It’s not about the cards you’re dealt, but how you play the hand.’
                                                                                Print | eBook | Audiobook

                                                                                20. Daring Greatly: How the Courage to Be Vulnerable Transforms the Way We Live, Love, Parent, and Lead

                                                                                by Brené Brown

                                                                                  I love Brené Brown’s books. She writes about an insight that I have found to be scary but true at the same time.

                                                                                  Vulnerability, unlike we have been taught, is not a weakness, but a power to be tapped. Growing up with the idea that we have to hide certain parts of ourselves, to look strong and persevere at all costs always seemed a facade to me. And now she has the research to back that up.

                                                                                  From that place of vulnerability comes a sense of worthiness, which for most of us, needs to be cultivated every day. Only if we get in touch with that tender spot of our hearts can we connect with others and develop genuine compassion, which are prerequisites, Brown tells us, for living a ‘wholehearted life.’

                                                                                  The reality, however, is that we often close down, feel neglected and misunderstood, and rather want the vulnerability and perhaps even ourselves to disappear.

                                                                                  This book is an amazing antidote for that common instinct. Want to be truly convinced? Check out her amazing ted talk here.

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                                                                                  21. The Demon-Haunted World: Science as a Candle in the Dark

                                                                                  by Carl Sagan

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                                                                                    We all find UFO’s fascinating. We all really want to believe in magic or visiting aliens. (Surely the crop circles are conclusive proof!) And some of us believe the government is poisoning us with chemtrails.

                                                                                    At the same time we are fascinated by the progress made by science, by all the new technology and medicines and the fascinating discoveries being

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                                                                                    22. Philosophy for Life

                                                                                    by Jules Evans

                                                                                      As philosopher Sloterdijk puts it; ‘philosophy is a beautiful child of an ugly mother.’

                                                                                      Philosophy first arose when the old Greek polis states were at the brink of destruction. Philosophy, according to Sloterdijk, was not just a way to make sense of the world, to come to knowledge or truth, but to serve as a psychological immune system.

                                                                                      This book is an amazing expression of this perspective. From the stoics to Cognitive Behavioral Therapy, Jules Evans writes about some of the amazing philosophical techniques we can use to train and improve our cognitive immune systems.

                                                                                      He weaves ancient stories with modern applications, from heroism to cosmic contemplation. Philosophy for Life is a beautifully written book that makes it easy to understand the practical nature of philosophy.

                                                                                      Perhaps the book would have been better if he would have gone deeper into the subject matter, but nonetheless he captures the essence of what philosophy can mean for the modern person. A must read.

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                                                                                      23. Man’s Search For Meaning

                                                                                      by Victor. E. Frankl

                                                                                        If I had to pick one book from this list for mandatory reading, I would choose this one.

                                                                                        For three years, Viktor Frankl labored in four different Nazi concentration camps, including Auschwitz. He tells us about his experience and that of his fellow prisoners.

                                                                                        Both chilling and uplifting, confronted with the idea that they would be trapped there for the rest of their lives; he gives us an account of those who found meaning and those who succumbed to nihilism.

                                                                                        A blend between a memoir, a psychological investigation and a self-help book, Frankl delivers a powerful message:

                                                                                        Finding meaning lies at the core of being human.

                                                                                        From his own experience as a psychiatrist, combined with anecdotes from his time in the concentration camps, he tells us how important it is to find meaning in our own lives and what we can become if we don’t.

                                                                                        Suffering, he conveys to us, is inevitable. But as to how we cope with it is dependent on ourselves. If we can find meaning, even in the worst acts our species have ever inflicted upon their fellow men, we will be able to move forward with renewed purpose.

                                                                                        I also recommend you to check out this article to help you find out your purpose and passion that will motivate you to live in a meaningful way: How to Get Motivated and Be Happy Every Day When You Wake Up

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                                                                                        24. Simplify

                                                                                        by Joshua Becker

                                                                                          This is a fun little book written by Joshua Becker, a big proponent of minimalist living. We all know that quote from Fightclub: “Advertising has us chasing cars and clothes, working jobs we hate so we can buy shit we don’t need.” 

                                                                                          Well, this is ending.

                                                                                          Slowly we are outgrowing an era where the unquestioned mantra ‘more is always better’ dictates our behavior. Rather, we now find ourselves, our lives and our homes cluttered with too much information, too much stuff and just too much shit we don’t need.

                                                                                          This simple book helps you become aware of the freedom gained from living with less. It is a small book, easily read under an hour, but it carries a persuasive punch to start living live in a very different way.

                                                                                          eBook

                                                                                          25. Love Yourself Like Your Life Depends On It

                                                                                          by Kamal Ravikant

                                                                                            The fundamental ground upon which all true self improvement is build is called self-love. Because in the end, no matter which way you turn, if you don’t love yourself, you will sabotage yourself at one point. You will think that, for some reason or another, you are not worthy. And if you think that, why would you truly want to achieve anything?

                                                                                            And this is not just about achievement. This is about how you approach yourself every day; this is what you see when you look in the mirror.

                                                                                            We make so many snap-judgments about ourselves- often without being conscious of them- that are filled with negativity, haltering us before we can even begin to heal. This powerful book shows you the antidote.

                                                                                            Self love. Not to be confused with creating some narcissistic image of ourselves that some previous books in this list implicitly endorse, but self love, that inner gratefulness that no external condition can take away.

                                                                                            Self love, that infinite source you can share with others.

                                                                                            Print | eBook | Audiobook

                                                                                            Final Thoughts

                                                                                            Now that you’ve got a list of the most inspirational books to improve your life, what should you do next? Read them all?

                                                                                            It’s of course best to read them all, but we only have so much brain energy to take all this knowledge. What if I tell you there’s a way to boost your brain power? Here it is:

                                                                                            How to Increase Brain Power, Boost Memory and Become 10X Smarter

                                                                                            More Books for Your Inspiration

                                                                                            Featured photo credit: Unsplash via unsplash.com

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