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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.

    Print | eBook

    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!

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      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!’

                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.

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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.

                              Print | eBook | Audiobook

                              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.

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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.

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                                      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.’
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                                        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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                                                    Last Updated on July 3, 2020

                                                    How to Control Your Thoughts and Be the Master of Your Mind

                                                    How to Control Your Thoughts and Be the Master of Your Mind

                                                    Your mind is the most powerful tool you have for the creation of good in your life, but if not used correctly, can also be the most destructive force in your life. To control your thoughts means to influence the way you live your life.

                                                    Your mind, more specifically, your thoughts, affects your perception and therefore, your interpretation of reality. (And here’s Why Your Perception Is Your Reality)

                                                    I have heard that the average person thinks around 70,000 thoughts a day. That’s a lot, especially if they are unproductive, self-abusive, and just a general waste of energy.

                                                    You can let your thoughts run amok, but why would you? It is your mind, your thoughts; isn’t it time to take your power back? Isn’t it time to take control?

                                                    Choose to be the person who is actively, consciously thinking your thoughts. Be someone who can control your thoughts—become the master of your mind.

                                                    When you change your thoughts, you will change your feelings as well, and you will also eliminate the triggers that set off those feelings. Both of these outcomes provide you with a greater level of peace in your mind.

                                                    I currently have a few thoughts that are not of my choosing or a response from my reprogramming. I am the master of my mind, so now my mind is quite peaceful. Yours can be too!

                                                    Who Is Thinking My Thoughts?

                                                    Before you can become the master of your mind, you must recognize that you are currently at the mercy of several unwanted “squatters” living in your mind, and they are in control of your thoughts.

                                                    If you want to be the boss of them, you must know who they are and what their motivation is, and then you can take charge and evict them.

                                                    Here are four of the “squatters” in your head that create unhealthy and unproductive thoughts.

                                                    1. The Inner Critic

                                                    This is your constant abuser who is often a conglomeration of:

                                                    • Other people’s words—many times your parents
                                                    • Thoughts you have created based on your own or other peoples’ expectations
                                                    • Comparing yourself to other people, including those in the media
                                                    • The things you told yourself as a result of painful experiences such as betrayal and rejection. Your interpretation creates your self-doubt and self-blame, which are most likely undeserved in cases of rejection and betrayal.

                                                    The Inner Critic is motivated by pain, low self-esteem, lack of self-acceptance, and lack of self-love.

                                                    Why else would this person abuse you? And since this person is youwhy else would you abuse yourself? Why would you let anyone treat you this badly?

                                                    2. The Worrier

                                                    This person lives in the future—in the world of “what ifs.”

                                                    The Worrier is motivated by fear, which is often irrational and has no basis. Occasionally, this person is motivated by fear that what happened in the past will happen again.

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                                                    3. The Reactor or Troublemaker

                                                    This is the one that triggers anger, frustration, and pain. These triggers stem from unhealed wounds of the past. Any experience that is even closely related to a past wound will set him off.

                                                    This person can be set off by words or feelings and can even be set off by sounds and smells.

                                                    The Reactor has no real motivation and has poor impulse control. He is run by past programming that no longer serves you—if it ever did.

                                                    4. The Sleep Depriver

                                                    This can be a combination of any number of different squatters including the inner planner, the rehasher, and the ruminator, along with the inner critic and the worrier.

                                                    The Sleep Depriver’s motivation can be:

                                                    • As a reaction to silence, which he fights against
                                                    • Taking care of the business you neglected during the day
                                                    • Self-doubt, low self-esteem, insecurity, and generalized anxiety
                                                    • As listed above for the inner critic and worrier

                                                    How can you control these squatters?

                                                    How to Master Your Mind

                                                    You are the thinker and the observer of your thoughts. You can control your thoughts, but you must pay attention to them so you can identify “who” is running the show—this will determine which technique you will want to use.

                                                    Begin each day with the intention of paying attention to your thoughts and catching yourself when you are thinking undesirable thoughts.

                                                    There are two ways to control your thoughts:

                                                    • Technique A – Interrupt and replace them
                                                    • Technique B – Eliminate them altogether

                                                    This second option is what is known as peace of mind.

                                                    The technique of interrupting and replacing is a means of reprogramming your subconscious mind. Eventually, the replacement thoughts will become the “go-to” thoughts in applicable situations.

                                                    Use Technique A with the Inner Critic and Worrier and Technique B with the Reactor and Sleep Depriver.

                                                    1. For the Inner Critic

                                                    When you catch yourself thinking something negative about yourself (calling yourself names, disrespecting yourself, or berating yourself), interrupt it.

                                                    You can yell (in your mind), “Stop! No!” or, “Enough! I’m in control now.” Then, whatever your negative thought was about yourself, replace it with an opposite or counter thought or an affirmation that begins with “I am.”

                                                    For example, if your thought is, “I’m such a loser,” you can replace it with, “I am a Divine Creation of the Universal Spirit. I am a perfect spiritual being learning to master the human experience. I am a being of energy, light, and matter. I am magnificent, brilliant, and beautiful. I love and approve of myself just as I am.”

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                                                    You can also have a dialogue with yourself to discredit the ‘voice’ that created the thought—if you know whose voice it is:

                                                    “Just because so-and-so said I was a loser doesn’t make it true. It was his or her opinion, not a statement of fact. Or maybe they were joking and I took it seriously because I’m insecure.”

                                                    If you recognize that you have recurring self-critical thoughts, you can write out or pre-plan your counter thoughts or affirmation so you can be ready.

                                                    This is the first squatter you should evict, forcefully, if necessary:

                                                    • They rile up the Worrier.
                                                    • The names you call yourself become triggers when called those names by others, so he also maintains the presence of the Reactor.
                                                    • They are often present when you try to fall asleep so he perpetuates the Sleep Depriver.
                                                    • They are a bully and is verbally and emotionally abusive.
                                                    • They are the destroyer of self-esteem. They convince you that you’re not worthy. They’re a liar! In the interest of your self-worth, get them out!

                                                    Eliminate your worst critic and you will also diminish the presence of the other three squatters.

                                                    Replace them with your new best friends who support, encourage, and enhance your life. This is a presence you want in your mind.

                                                    2. For the Worrier

                                                    Prolonged anxiety is mentally, emotionally, and physically unhealthy. It can have long-term health implications.

                                                    Fear initiates the fight or flight response, creates worry in the mind, and creates anxiety in the body. This may make it more difficult for you to control your thoughts effectively.

                                                    You should be able to recognize a “worry thought” immediately by how you feel. The physiological signs that the fight or flight response of fear has kicked in are:

                                                    • Increased heart rate, blood pressure, or surge of adrenaline
                                                    • Shallow breathing or breathlessness
                                                    • Muscles tense

                                                    Use the above-stated method to interrupt any thought of worry and then replace it. But this time, you will replace your thoughts of worry with thoughts of gratitude for the outcome you wish for.

                                                    If you believe in a higher power, this is the time to engage with it. Here is an example:

                                                    Instead of worrying about my loved ones traveling in bad weather, I say the following (I call it a prayer):

                                                    “Thank you great spirit for watching over _______. Thank you for watching over his/her car and keeping it safe, road-worthy, and free of maintenance issues without warning. Thank you for surrounding him/her with only safe, conscientious, and alert drivers. And thank you for keeping him/her safe, conscientious, and alert.”

                                                    Smile when you think about it or say it aloud, and phrase it in the present tense. Both of these will help you feel it and possibly even start to believe it.

                                                    If you can visualize what you are praying for, the visualization will enhance the feeling so you will increase the impact in your vibrational field.

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                                                    Now, take a calming breath, slowly in through your nose, and slowly out through the mouth. Take as many as you like! Do it until you feel that you’re close to being in control of your thoughts.

                                                    Replacing fearful thoughts with gratitude will decrease reactionary behavior, taking the steam out of the Reactor.

                                                    For example: If your child gets lost in the mall, the typical parental reaction that follows the fearful thoughts when finding them is to yell at them.

                                                    “I told you never to leave my sight.” This reaction just adds to the child’s fear level from being lost in the first place.

                                                    Plus, it also teaches them that mom and/or dad will get mad when he or she makes a mistake, which may make them lie to you or not tell you things in the future.

                                                    Change those fearful thoughts when they happen:

                                                    “Thank You (your choice of Higher Power) for watching over my child and keeping him safe. Thank you for helping me find him soon.”

                                                    Then, when you see your child after this thought process, your only reaction will be gratitude, and that seems like a better alternative for all people involved.

                                                    3. For the Troublemaker, Reactor or Over-Reactor

                                                    Permanently eliminating this squatter will take a bit more attention and reflection after the fact to identify and heal the causes of the triggers. But until then, you can prevent the Reactor from getting out of control by initiating conscious breathing as soon as you recognize his presence.

                                                    The Reactor’s thoughts or feelings activate the fight or flight response just like with the Worrier. The physiological signs of his presence will be the same. With a little attention, you should be able to tell the difference between anxiety, anger, frustration, or pain.

                                                    I’m sure you’ve heard the suggestion to count to ten when you get angry—well, you can make those ten seconds much more productive if you are breathing consciously during that time.

                                                    Conscious breathing is as simple as it sounds—just be conscious of your breathing. Pay attention to the air going in and coming out.

                                                    Breathe in through your nose:

                                                    • Feel the air entering your nostrils.
                                                    • Feel your lungs filling and expanding.
                                                    • Focus on your belly rising.

                                                    Breathe out through your nose:

                                                    • Feel your lungs emptying.
                                                    • Focus on your belly falling.
                                                    • Feel the air exiting your nostrils.

                                                    Do this for as long as you like. Leave the situation if you want. This gives the adrenaline time to normalize. Now, you can address the situation with a calmer, more rational perspective and avoid damaging behavior, and you’ll be more in control of your thoughts.

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                                                    One of the troubles this squatter causes is that it adds to the sleep depriver’s issues. By evicting or at least controlling the Reactor, you will decrease reactionary behavior, which will decrease the need for the rehashing and ruminating that may keep you from falling asleep.

                                                    Master your mind and stop the Reactor from bringing stress to you and your relationships!

                                                    4. For the Sleep Depriver

                                                    (They’re made up of the Inner Planner, the Rehasher, and the Ruminator, along with the Inner Critic and the Worrier.)

                                                    I was plagued with a very common problem: not being able to turn off my mind at bedtime. This inability prevented me from falling asleep and thus, getting a restful and restorative night’s sleep.

                                                    Here’s how I mastered my mind and evicted the Sleep Depriver and all his cronies.

                                                    1. I started by focusing on my breathing—paying attention to the rise and fall of my belly—but that didn’t keep the thoughts out for long. (Actually, I now start with checking my at-rest mouth position to keep me from clenching.)
                                                    2. Then I came up with a replacement strategy that eliminated uncontrolled thinking—imagining the word in while breathing in and thinking the word out when breathing out. I would (and do) elongate the word to match the length of my breath.

                                                    When I catch myself thinking, I shift back to in, out. With this technique, I am still thinking, sort of, but the wheels are no longer spinning out of control. I am in control of my mind and thoughts, and I choose quiet.

                                                    From the first time I tried this method, I started to yawn after only a few cycles and am usually asleep within ten minutes.

                                                    For really difficult nights, I add an increase of attention by holding my eyes in a looking-up position (closed, of course). Sometimes I try to look toward my third eye but that really hurts my eyes.

                                                    If you have trouble falling asleep because you can’t shut off your mind, I strongly recommend you try this technique. I still use it every night. You can start sleeping better tonight!

                                                    You can also use this technique any time you want to:

                                                    • Fall back to sleep if you wake up too soon
                                                    • Shut down your thinking
                                                    • Calm your feelings
                                                    • Simply focus on the present moment

                                                    The Bottom Line

                                                    Your mind is a tool, and like any other tool, it can be used for constructive purposes or destructive purposes.

                                                    You can allow your mind to be occupied by unwanted, undesirable, and destructive tenants, or you can choose desirable tenants like peace, gratitude, compassion, love, and joy.

                                                    Your mind can become your best friend, your biggest supporter, and someone you can count on to be there and encourage you. You can be in control of your thoughts. The choice is yours!

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                                                    Featured photo credit: Priscilla Du Preez via unsplash.com

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