The field of personal growth (or “self-help” — as folks like to call it when they want me to cringe) has a bad rap. In reality, books that help us live, work, and love are critical texts to have in our digital and physical libraries, and I believe anyone with an eye towards growing as a person should be reading this genre on a more regular basis.
As such, here are ten of my all-time favorite personal growth books, meant to help you live your life as best as you possibly can.
Slowing Down to the Speed of Life 1 of 10
One of my favorite all-time books is Richard Carlson's Slowing Down to the Speed of Life: How to Create a More Peaceful, Simpler Life from the Inside Out. I read it first about ten years ago, and since that time have read it several more times as means to remind myself, again and again, the importance of living in the present. It even inspired me to write my own ebook: The Present Principle: 7 Steps to Life in the Now.
The Power of Full Engagement 2 of 10
Some people rightly consider The Power of Full Engagement: Managing Energy, Not Time, Is the Key to High Performance and Personal Renewal a business book. And it is good for business people and folks interested in improving time management and productivity on a professional level. However, I think classifying this book as a personal growth book is more accurate - simply because of the wealth of information it provides about how to live better by better managing your energy - at work and at home. One of my all-time favorites.
Be Excellent at Anything 3 of 10
Tony Schwartz is the king of teaching you to live a better life, and Be Excellent at Anything: The Four Keys To Transforming the Way We Work and Live is a transformative work to help you do just that. Another book that crosses the boundary between the personal and professional, it's worth keeping on both your bedside table and in your office library.
The Happiness Project 4 of 10
When Gretchen Rubin wrote The Happiness Project: Or, Why I Spent a Year Trying to Sing in the Morning, Clean My Closets, Fight Right, Read Aristotle, and Generally Have More Fun, she may not have thought that others would one day look to it as a book potentially categorized within personal growth. That said, the book, which is a first person narrative of Ruben's own experiences, has had such incredible success for the simple reason that so many folks truly do use it as a guide to making their own lives happier and healthier. Well worth making a part of your own library.
The Secret of the Shadow 5 of 10
It's hard to choose which of the late Debbie Ford's many books are the most transformational, but The Secret of the Shadow: The Power of Owning Your Whole Story is undoubtedly one of her classics and a great starting place to understand the body of Ford's work. She was a forceful, passionate healer ready to bring logic and love to the most difficult of life circumstances, and her books reflect this.
The Power of Less 6 of 10
Zen Habits' Leo Babauta is a great teacher who can help anyone on their journey to find the essential in life, and live in the light of that essential. His great (short) book, The Power of Less: The Fine Art of Limiting Yourself to the Essential...in Business and in Life, is a classic on teaching you minimalism in your life, space, and mind. Highly recommended.
The Seven Spiritual Laws of Success 7 of 10
Deepak Chopra has written many books sharing his wisdom on living lighter and more satisfying lives. Most credit The Seven Spiritual Laws of Success: A Practical Guide to the Fulfillment of Your Dreams with much of his publishing success, and it's a great starter to understand his overarching message to the world of peace, fulfillment, and daily dream-reaching.
The Joy Diet 8 of 10
I'm a big fan of Martha Beck, and have enjoyed a number of her books on various topics. The Joy Diet: Ten Daily Practices for a Happier Life is a good primer for living a happier life, and includes one particular practice I picked up from Beck that I highly recommend. The practice? Spend a few minutes every morning doing absolutely nothing. No meditation. No prayer. Nothing. Try it. And then buy Beck's book.
Daring Greatly 9 of 10
Brene Brown is a master, and when her TED talk went viral a couple years back, it immediately sparked intense interest in some of the fascinating research she's been doing for over a decade. In Daring Greatly: How the Courage to Be Vulnerable Transforms the Way We Live, Love, Parent, and Lead she shares the learnings from her research, teaching us all that vulnerability is a key asset we need to be accessing in our professional and personal lives. A great book, and well worth more than one read.
Quiet 10 of 10
Another book that some classify in the category of business, Quiet: The Power of Introverts in a World That Can't Stop Talking, is an incredible work for introverts, and any human who works, lives with, or knows an introvert. Cain does an incredible job of summarizing her work in the field and offering stories and tangible advice on how introverts and those who know them can navigate the tricky world a bit better. One of my favorite books in years.