The essence of modern-day grownuppery is a good self-improvement project.
Whether the focus is getting out of bed as soon as the alarm goes off, getting a creative project off the ground, kicking procrastination forever, or figuring out—hallelujah!—what to do for a career, we’re all works in progress. But finding the path that’ll get us to our goals is a torturous, tender, thriller of a challenge. Wouldn’t it be lovely if the endeavor came with a user manual?
Finally, the good news: it does. Many user manuals, that is.
If you’re looking to turn over a new leaf and change your life for the better, we’ve got plenty of leaves you should be turning. This list of 10 books in personal transformation and self-help will bring you closer to meeting your goals and bringing your world a little closer to the one you dreamed of making. Ready to discover your next, most inspirational read yet? Read on!
Find even more heart-stopping books over at the Stairway to Wisdom, a new offering from HighExistence. It comes with a premium weekly newsletter featuring deep dives into the best of books and literature, new book breakdowns each and every week, and much, MUCH more!
1. Emotional Intelligence – Daniel Goleman
“In a very real sense we have two minds, one that thinks and one that feels.”
-Daniel Goleman, Emotional Intelligence
In this book, psychologist, writer, and Pulitzer Prize nominee Daniel Goleman explores the nature of emotional intelligence and how it impacts every facet of human life. You’ll learn how emotional intelligence evolves and how it can be boosted, all in a framework alternative to the prevailing cognition-centered approaches to the human mind. Goleman’s book offers new insights for anyone seeking to live up to their own abilities or curious about the relationship between success, cognitive abilities, and positive outlook.
2. Flow – Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi
“Of all the virtues we can learn no trait is more useful, more essential for survival, and more likely to improve the quality of life than the ability to transform adversity into an enjoyable challenge.”
― Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi, Flow: The Psychology of Happiness
What’s the key to experiencing more enjoyment in your life? It’s flow. When you’re immersed in an activity or subject that makes you neither anxious that it’s too hard, nor bored because it’s too easy, you slide into a flow state that keeps you controlled but creative, focused, but free. Csikszentmihalyi is the global leader in research on positive psychology, creativity, and motivation, and his landmark book illuminates a path to shedding self-consciousness, selfishness, and a sense of time and achieving mastery and meaning through flow. with relationships, work, the world.
3. How to Stop Worrying and Start Living – Dale Carnegie
“Nobody is so miserable as he who longs to be somebody and something other than the person he is in body and mind.”
― Dale Carnegie, How to Stop Worrying and Start Living
This is the self-help czar’s somewhat lesser-known treatise on, what else? Nixing the worry in your life so you can know, do, and be better. Carnegie outlines clearly why worrying is so awful for you and offers tools that you can use to cut it out. In typical Dale style, there are also plenty of anecdotes to support his recommendations, including those from Carnegie himself. Until he did a little digging for the secrets to living better, he considered himself to be ”one of the unhappiest lads in New York” due to excessive worrying. This book is the manifestation of long, hard efforts to quitting it for good.
4. Drive – Daniel Pink
“When the reward is the activity itself–deepening learning, delighting customers, doing one’s best–there are no shortcuts.”
― Daniel H. Pink, Drive: The Surprising Truth About What Motivates Us
Motivation. As it turns out, most companies are doing it wrong. In Drive, Daniel Pink describes the characteristics of extrinsic and intrinsic motivation, and the counterproductive ways in which businesses today still rely upon external motivators—even when it’s often (and obviously!) counterproductive. Pink reveals how we can best motivate ourselves and others by understanding intrinsic motivation.
5. How Will You Measure Your Life? – Clayton M. Christensen, James Allworth and Karen Dillon
“Because if the decisions you make about where you invest your blood, sweat, and tears are not consistent with the person you aspire to be, you’ll never become that person.”
― Clayton M. Christensen, How Will You Measure Your Life?
If you’re wondering how to strike a balance between work and life demands, or lately, you’ve been asking yourself just what long-term happiness is made of, this is the book for you. As a leading business expert and cancer survivor, Clayton M. Christensen has a unique insight or two on how to lead a life that brings both professional success and genuine happiness. In How Will You Measure Your Life?, Christensen touches on everything from motivation and how you can harness it to picking a career strategy; how to strengthen relationships with loved ones, to how to craft a family culture.
6. How to Win Friends and Influence People – Dale Carnegie
“It isn’t what you have or who you are or where you are or what you are doing that makes you happy or unhappy. It is what you think about it.”
― Dale Carnegie, How to Win Friends and Influence People
This book may just be where the entire self transformation genre began. How to Win Friends & Influence People is Dale Carnegie’s classic, presenting some basic rules for how to make a good first impression on others and transform them into allies and friends. This is a colorful read, made immediate by anecdotes of yesterday’s greats including presidents, politicians, and businessfolk alike. Read this one if you’re a manager, an employee, a consultant, a teacher—really, anyone who deals with people on a daily basis.
7. 59 Seconds – Richard Wiseman
“In short, when it comes to an instant fix for everyday happiness, certain types of writing have a surprisingly quick and large impact. Expressing gratitude, thinking about a perfect future, and affectionate writing have been scientifically proven to work—and all they require is a pen, a piece of paper, and a few moments of your time.”
― Richard Wiseman, 59 Seconds: Think a Little, Change a Lot
Described by one of Scientific American’s columnists as “the most interesting and innovative experimental psychologist in the world today,” psychologist and professor Richard Wiseman has given keynotes for the likes of Amazon and Google, and has written a couple of bestsellers, too. in 59 Seconds, he offers handy tips and insights you can use to change your life—in a minute or less!—all backed by scientific research.
8. Activate Your Brain – Scott G. Halford
“The simplest and most crucial step we can all take in living the life we want is to start doing it now. If we wait to have all of our ducks in order, the first ducks we collected will have flown the coop by the time we get to the last ducks and it becomes a never-ending amassing of ducks. The prize goes to those who can get over being completely prepared before they begin.”
― Scott G. Halford, Activate Your Brain
Despite all the scientific breakthroughs made in recent decades, we still don’t fully understand the human brain. We have, however, discovered some important elements of neuroscience! Backed by research, helpful examples and exercises, Activate Your Brain shows you how to use what we know about brains to make the best use of your gray matter, be more mindful, and feel more fulfilled.
9. 13 Things Mentally Strong People Don’t Do – Amy Morin
“Each time you avoid saying no to something you really don’t want, you give away your power.”
– Amy Morin, 13 Things Mentally Strong People Don’t Do
Do you dream of starting a company or writing a novel? Could you even start today, but feel like something’s holding you back? Do you wish you were more assertive, more of a go-out-and-get-’em type? It’s time to start being rather than yearning, and this book can help. Amy Morin’s book will help you break the cycle of non-achievement and help you start living the life you’ve dreamed of. There are 13 critical ways to improve your mental strength, conquer your fears, and be the powerhouse you know you can be.
10. Finding Your Element – Ken Robinson
“For most of us the problem isn’t that we aim too high and fail – it’s just the opposite – we aim too low and succeed.”
― Ken Robinson, Finding Your Element
If you’re looking for direction, start reading here. Sir Ken Robinson, a renowned writer, speaker, and educator known as much for his TED talks on human creativity as for his books on discovering your passions, will help you uncover your true talents. Written with a keen sense of wit, Finding Your Element offers entertaining and inspiring wisdom that will help you not only to be more productive but also to improve your overall happiness and quality of life.
Want more books?
You can find even more heart-stopping books over at the Stairway to Wisdom, a new offering from HighExistence. It comes with a premium weekly newsletter featuring deep dives into the best of books and literature, new book breakdowns each and every week, and much, MUCH more!