Sometimes in life, you just want to take action. Skip the abstraction and the theorising, skip the metaphysical self analysis, and get some good old practical advice. While there are many great self improvement books out there, if you lean towards hands-on real world application, this list is for you. In no particular order here are my top 5 self improvement books for positive practical change.
- The Happiness Project – Gretchen Rubin
- The Power of Habit – Charles Duhigg
- Mindset: The New Psycholgy of Success – Carol Dweck
- Mindfulness for Beginners – Jon Kabat-Zinn
- The Procrastinators Handbook – Rita Emmett
A New York Times Best Seller The Happiness Project is the most well known book on this list. During her “happiness project,” the author made practical immediate changes to improve her outlook for an entire year. Each month she focused on one method to increase happiness, like “buy some happiness” or “make time for friends.” Rubin leaves the readers with plenty of tips and methods to start their own happiness project on her website as well. If you have any interest in carrying out your own happiness project she lays it out from start to finish.
If you have ever heard the quote, “excellence, then, is not an act, but a habit,” and thought tell me more, then you have got to read this book! In The Power of Habit, Duhigg breaks down exactly how we build good and bad habits, and how they contribute to our success. He shares stories of successful habit transformation, as well as practical methods for transforming our own habits. Moreover Duhigg stresses that habits are the ultimate building block for continual success. Repeated action over a long period of time are pivotal to self improvement. If that is not practical, then I don’t know what is.
While this list is still in no particular order, I will say that this book is an absolute game changer. While it may seem as if there is no practical way to alter one’s mindset Carol Dweck makes it sound easy. This book has tons of advice anyone can use in their everyday lives. For example, if you find yourself giving up after trying to learn a new skill rather than saying “I can’t do this!” you can say “I can’t do this…yet.” That subtle change makes all the difference when accomplishing a long term goal. Mindset is full of practical info for all ages, and will change the way you think about achieving your goals.
I remember my first meditation class. I was fidgety, uncomfortable and could not get my mind settle down. While my legs slept straight away, my mind was off to the races. I wish I read Mindfulness for Beginners while taking that class as it would have helped a ton. If you are curious about meditation or even just mindfulness in your everyday life you should check it out. Furthermore it’s practical because each section is easily digestible, not too long, and even comes with it’s own CD.
I was going to write this paragraph later, but I forced myself to do it now, because I read this book. If you are or ever have been a chronic procrastinator like myself, this book is for you. What’s most practical about this book is that it forces you to do a little homework. There are checklists and tasks throughout each chapter to help keep you on your toes. Finally, the way Emmett differentiates between the types of procrastinators can also help you gain some useful self knowledge. I would also recommend listening to Dr. Timothy A. Pychyl’s podcast iProcrastinate, which gives some great tips grounded in research.
And there you have it. These five books were all great reads and continue to help me make real positive changes. Personal development is often viewed as cheesy and even overly self serving at times. Even so, the truth is that when we better ourselves we better the lives of everyone around us. Self improvement doesn’t have to be an illusive unreachable objective. With a little practical advice and some hard work, we can all become our best selves.
You May Also Like: