Self development books are rising in popularity, but their direct effect on people is debatable. It is said that the most common result of reading a self development book is not some divine spiritual awakening, startup success or a new life journey…. but that the reader will buy another one. This certainly holds true for me in part, but I still feel strongly that they provide a great return for your time and money if used properly.
Investing time into books that are relevant to you at just the right time can have remarkably positive results. The benefits will not be found by simply reading alone, but studying and implementing the core techniques taught can have a marked effect.
Why wouldn’t you want to try to improve yourself?
If you feel it’s not worth it for you, then do it for the other numerous people you interact with on a daily basis that have to deal with your… unique behavior. A good book can shape the way you think, feel and act. I give some of my favorites a huge amount of credit for paths taken, challenges overcome and opportunities seized.
Reading is great for the erratic mind: requiring slow, concentrated effort. In order to follow the book you must focus on the words and meaning, if your attention strays you will soon notice and have to find your way back, returning to the words, the point of focus. It turns out this is a very similar discipline to that of meditation, which has proven benefits to mental health, stress management and mood regulation. To learn more listen to the headspace and waking up audio-books linked or try the apps for free.
There are many books out there and it’s easy to get lost in the paradox of choice, so I encourage you to only look for books (old and new) that fit your specific situation. What are your current questions, goals, challenges? The best books contain timeless key principles that will help navigate challenges now and forever. Below lists some of my favorites that I’ve learnt from in the last couple of years, hopefully you can find something in there for you too.
- 12 Rules for Life: An Antidote to Chaos.
Jordan B. Peterson –A no nonsense and science backed collection of rules for life.
Dr. Jordan B. Peterson is a professor of psychology at the University of Toronto, and a practicing clinical psychologist. In this book he breaks down complex human behaviors/challenges/traits, describes the problems associated with them and condenses his life advice in the form of 12 simple but concrete rules.
There are dark topics in this book which wont be to everyone’s taste but it is unequivocally honest and powerful.
The Chimp Paradox: The Acclaimed Mind Management Program to Help You Achieve Success, Confidence and Happiness.
Steve Peters –
As mentioned in 5 Stories of Perspective & the Art of Overthinking, the reactive mind’s ‘chimp behavior’ is not your fault, but your responsibility to identify, tame and manage.
- The 80/20 Principle: The Secret to Success by Achieving More with Less.
Richard Koch –
‘The 80/20 principle – also known as the Pareto principle – is the well-verified observation that in business, economics, and life generally, about 80 percent of all results flow from a mere 20 percent of our efforts.’
As recommended by entrepreneur, author, investor, podcaster: Tim Ferriss. This book focuses on analytics, optimization and efficiency. If this line of thought interests you, or you have already read the above – you should also look at Tim’s own books, my favorite being The 4-Hour Work Week.
- The Master Key System: Library of Hidden Knowledge.
Charles F. Haanel –
‘Thought is the powerful catalyst towards making any idea a reality.’
This one is the most spiritual and airy so it’s one to avoid if that doesn’t fit you. Using the system outlined however can provide you with a strong positive outlook on life and puts you in a better position to notice/act on opportunity which can lead to real world results.
Besides, it’s recommended by Terry Crews… Remember ‘White Chicks’?
- The Magic of Thinking Big.
David J. Schwartz –
I found this one through the blogger ‘Mr Money Mustache‘ who writes about the efficient use of time and money to achieve financial freedom.
An entertaining read, first published in 1959! The language and examples can be old fashioned at times but this doesn’t distract from the message and actually adds a level of charm. There is a reason it is still in print today, the lessons are timeless.
The book is about mindset and work ethic, take ownership of your trials and tests, work hard and achieve. At all times ‘think big’.