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20 Extraordinary And Inspiring Facts About The Universe

20 Extraordinary And Inspiring Facts About The Universe

The universe is so vast it’s extremely difficult to know the full extent of its complexities. Humans can only scratch at the surface of its immensity, but whenever we do we pick up remarkable information, and images, which are awe inspiring and baffling in equal measure. What we do know has been made readily available to the public thanks to the leading space exploratation organisations, so here are 20 of the most intriguing facts for your reading pleasure.

1. When you look into the night sky, you are looking back in time

    The stars we see in the night sky are very far away from us, so far the star light we see has taken a long time to travel across space to reach our eyes. This means whenever we look out into the night and gaze at stars we are actually experiencing how they looked in the past. For example, the bright star Vega is relatively close to us at 25 light-years away, so the light we see left the star 25 years ago; while Betelgeuse (pictured) in the constellation of Orion is 640 light-years away, so the light left the star around 1370, during the time of the Hundred Years’ War between England and France. Other stars we see are further away still, so we are seeing them much deeper in their past.

    2. The Hubble telescope allows us to look back billions of years into the past

      The Hubble Telescope enables us to look towards very distant objects in the universe. Thanks to this remarkable piece of engineering NASA has been able to create some incredible images, one of which is the Hubble Ultra Deep Field. Created using images from the telescope from 2003 and 2004, the incredible picture displays a tiny patch of the sky in immense detail; it contains 10,000 objects, most of them young galaxies, and acts as a portal back in time. In one picture we are transported 13 billion years into the past, just 400 to 800 million years after the Big Bang, which is early in terms of the universe’s history.

      3. You can watch the Big Bang on your television

        Cosmic background radiation is the afterglow and heat of the Big Bang, the momentous event that kick-started our universe 13.7 billion years ago. This cosmic echo exists throughout the universe, and amazingly we can use an old-fashioned television set to catch a glimpse of it. When a television is not tuned to a station you can see the black and white fuzz and clacking white noise, around 1% of this interference is made up cosmic background radiation – the afterglow of creation.

        4. There’s a giant cloud of alcohol in Sagittarius B

          Sagittarius B is a vast molecular cloud of gas and dust floating near the centre of the Milky Way, 26,000 light-years from Earth, 463,000,000,000 kilometres in diameter and, amazingly, it contains 10-billion-billion-billion litres of alcohol. The vinyl alcohol in the cloud is far from the most flavoursome tipple in the universe, but it is an important organic molecule which offers some clues how the first building blocks of life-forming substances are produced.

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          5. There’s a planet-sized diamond in Centaurus named after a Beatles song

            Astronomers have discovered the largest known diamond in our galaxy, it’s a massive lump of crystallised diamond called BPM 37093, otherwise known as Lucy after The Beatles’ song Lucy in the Sky with Diamonds. Found 50 light-years away in the constellation of Centaurus, Lucy is about 25,000 miles across, so much larger then planet Earth, and weighs in at a massive 10 billion-trillion-trillion carats.

            6. It takes 225 million years for our Sun to travel round the galaxy

              Whilst the Earth and the other planets within our solar system orbit around the Sun, the Sun itself is orbiting around the centre of our galaxy, the Milky Way. It takes the Sun 225 million years to perform a complete circuit of the galaxy. The last time the Sun was in its current position in the galaxy the super-continent Pangaea was just about starting to break apart and early dinosaurs were making an appearance.

              7. Our solar system’s biggest mountain is on Mars

                Olympus Mons on Mars is the tallest mountain on any of the planets of the Solar System. The mountain is a gigantic shield volcano (similar to volcanoes found in the Haiiwain Islands) standing at 26 kilometres tall and sprawling 600 kilometres across. To put this into scale, this makes the mountain almost three times the height of Mount Everest.

                8. Uranus spins on its side, with some rather strange results

                  Most of the planets in the Solar System spin on an axis similar to the Sun’s; slight tilts in a planet’s axis causes seasons as different parts become slightly closer or further from the sun during their orbit. Uranus is an exceptional planet in many ways, not least because it spins almost completely on its side in relation to the Sun. This results in very long seasons – each pole gets around 42 Earth years of continuous summer sunlight, followed by a wintry 42-year period of darkness. Uranus’s northern hemisphere enjoyed its last summer solstice in 1944 and will see in the next winter solstice in 2028.

                  9. A year on Venus is shorter than its day

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                    Venus is the slowest rotating planet in our Solar System, so slow it takes longer to fully rotate than it does to complete its orbit. This means Venus has days that last longer than its years. It’s also home to one of the most inhospitable environments imaginable, with constant electronic storms, high CO2 readings, and it’s shrouded by clouds of sulfuric acid.

                    10. Neutron stars are the fastest spinning objects known in the universe

                      Neutron stars are thought to be the fastest spinning objects in the universe. Pulsars are a particular type of neutron star that emits a beam of radiation which can be observed as a pulse of light as the star spins. The rate of this pulse allows astronomers to measure the rotation.

                      The fastest spinning known pulsar is the catchily-titled PSR J1748-2446ad, which has an equator spinning at 24% the speed of light, which translates to over 70,000 kilometres per second. An artist’s impression of what this must look like is pictured above.

                      11. A spoonful of a neutron star weighs about a billion ton

                        Neutron stars spin incredibly quickly and are also incredibly dense. It is estimated, if you could collect a tablespoon of matter from the centre of a neutron star, it would weigh about one billion tons.

                        12. The Voyager 1 spacecraft is the most distant human-made object from Earth

                          The Voyager Program launched two spacecraft, Voyager 1 and Voyager 2, in 1977. The probes explored the planets and moons of the outer Solar System over several decades and are now continuing their mission to travel through the heliosphere at the edge of our Solar System and continue to voyage into interstellar space.

                          On March 20 2013, Voyager 1 became the first human-made object to leave the Solar Sytem and is now the furthest human-made object from Earth, currently 124.34 Astronomical Units away. In laymen terms, this means it’s around 1.15581251×1010 miles away. Putting it mildly this is a long way from home.

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                          13. Voyager 1 captured the most distant photograph of Earth

                            In 1990, as part of the spacecraft’s ongoing mission, Voyager 1 turned its camera back on our home planet and took a picture. This became known as The Pale Blue Dot. Seen from 6 billion kilometres away, the Earth appears as a tiny blue speck in the depths of space. Astronomer Carl Sagan, who first suggested the idea of the photograph, noted, “From this distant vantage point, the Earth might not seem of any particular interest. But for us, it’s different. Consider again that dot. That’s here. That’s home. That’s us.”

                            14. Scientists are looking for evidence of extraterrestrial life on Earth

                              The Search for Extra-Terrestrial Intelligence (SETI) is a project to discover whether intelligent life exists elsewhere in the universe and how we may contact extraterrestrial species. The search includes looking for life on other planets and moons. For instance, some of Jupiter’s moons (such as Io) are promising places to look for evidence of primitive life, but the search for extraterrestrial life includes scientific research on Earth.

                              If scientists can disocver evidence life has generated independently more than once it would suggest life could occur in more than one place, for more than one time. For this reason scientists are searching for evidence that life could have happened more than once on earth, with intriguing prospects for the universe as a result.

                              15. It is estimated there are 400 billion stars in our galaxy

                                Our Sun is essential to us, the centre of our Solar System, and our source of light and energy, but it is just one of many, many stars that make up our home galaxy, the Milky Way. Current estimates suggest there are around 400 billion stars sharing our galaxy. The artist’s concept above shows what a a dust disk around a baby star could well look like.

                                16. There could be 500 million planets capable of supporting life in our galaxy

                                  Scientists searching for extraterrestrial life focus on “Goldilocks Planets“; these are planets which fall into a star’s habitable zone. Planet Earth seems to have exactly the right conditions for life to exist – its distance from the Sun means the temperature is right, water can exist as a liquid solid and a gas, and there are the right combination of chemical compounds available to build complex life forms. Other planets thought to have similar features are known as Goldilocks planets.

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                                  In the Milky Way alone there are estimated to be 500 million potential Goldilocks planets, so if life can exist in places other than Earth there is a huge number of potential planets on which it might thrive. If these numbers are applied to all the galaxies in the universe there could be a staggering variety of planets capable of supporting life. Of course, we have no evidence life exists elsewhere, but if it does there are plenty of places for it to set up home.

                                   17. There are probably more than 170 billion galaxies in the observable universe

                                    Different calculations provide different numbers for how many galaxies there are in the observable universe – that is the part of the universe we can see from Earth with our current technology, there maybe many more but they are simply to far away for our telescopes to detect. Using data from the Hubble Telescope astronomers have calculated there are likely to be around 170 billion galaxies in the observable universe.

                                    18. There could be an infinite number of universes

                                      This is more speculative theory than a fact, but several branches of mathematics, quantum mechanics, and astrophysics have all come to similar conclusions: our universe is just one of many and we actually exist in a ‘multiverse’.

                                      There are different ideas of how this could be, one being the concept of atoms only capable of being arranged in a finite number of ways in time and space, ultimately leading to the repititon of events and people. Other theories propose bubble or parallel universes and ‘braneworlds’ that hover just out of reach of the dimensions we experience. Although these concepts seem like the far-fetched ideas of science-fiction, they are actually proving to be the most elegant solutions to problems thrown up by our discoveries of how the universe works.

                                      19. The human brain is the most complex object in the known universe

                                      Our brains are remarkably complex objects with a hundred billion neurons, a quadrillion connections, and we still know very little about how this organic super computer operates. But we do know the human brain is the most complicated thing we have yet discovered. It gives us the power to form language and culture, consciousness, the idea of self, the ability to learn, and understand the universe and reflect on our place within it. We even have an inbuilt “model of gravity“, which is pretty useful.

                                       20. We are all made of stardust

                                        This may sound fanciful, but the reality is almost every element found on Earth was created in the burning core of a star, all the stuff that makes up life on Earth, therefore our bodies are made from stardust. NASA have studied stardust extensively, and you can read more about their research on their official website. A NASA stardust canister is pictured above.

                                        In the words of Carl Sagan, “The nitrogen in our DNA, the calcium in our teeth, the iron in our blood, the carbon in our apple pies were made in the interiors of collapsing stars. We are made of starstuff.”

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                                        Last Updated on July 17, 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.

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                                              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!’

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                                                      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

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                                                        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.

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                                                            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.

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                                                              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.

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                                                                      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.

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                                                                        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.

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                                                                          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.

                                                                                Print | eBook | Audiobook

                                                                                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

                                                                                  Print | eBook | Audiobook

                                                                                  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.

                                                                                    Print | eBook

                                                                                    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

                                                                                      Print | eBook | Audiobook

                                                                                      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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