People react to challenging times in different ways. One way to channel the frustration and uncertainty is through self-improvement.
Following are six of my favorite books for helping you understand yourself and others better while improving your mind, outlook and overall life. This list is in no particular order, and where to start depends on your own particular life situation.
If you’re going through significant life change, start with “Who Moved My Cheese?”
For tips on coping with worry and anxiety, read “10% Happier.”
To read about how other people react to a variety of problems and figure out how to get past them, read “Maybe You Should Talk to Someone.”
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10% Happier by Dan Harris
News anchor and reporter Dan Harris’s highly engaging and informative book combines entertaining memoir with his narrative of self-discovery and self-improvement through mindfulness meditation.
He describes how he calmed the worry and voices in his head while making his life happier and more fulfilling.
How to Win Friends and Influence People by Dale Carnegie
Carnegie’s classic book from the early 20th century still resonates today with profound, time-tested advice, including:
- Six ways to make people like you
- Twelve ways to win people to your way of thinking
- Nine ways to change people without arousing resentment
The author describes therapy sessions with her clients and sessions with her own therapist when she was going through a difficult time. The book is highly entertaining as well as useful – you’ll likely recognize some of her patients as similar to people you know. You might even recognize yourself in some of her problems and her clients’.
The Power of Habit: Why We Do What We Do in Life and Business by Charles Duhigg
Duhigg delves into how habits are formed in the brain, why they’re often so hard to break and how old habits can be kicked, all backed up with fascinating scientific research.
Influence: The Psychology of Persuasion by Robert B. Cialdini PhD
Dr. Cialdini explains the principles behind why people say yes and how to use them ethically in business and everyday situations.
Some of the things you might find most interesting are not how you can persuade others to your way of thinking, but how you’re being persuaded without even realizing it.
For example, most people probably think that stores like BJ’s and Costco give out food samples as a “try before you buy” enticement. Nope. Sample giveaways are based on the concept of “reciprocation” – the internal desire to repay what another person has provided us. In this case, when we’re given a free sample, we may feel obligated to buy the product.
There’s also commitment and consistency – once we make a choice or take a stand, don’t confuse us with facts – we’ll do whatever it takes to justify our decisions.
Humans also tend to agree with people we like, and others tend to agree with us if they like us. We’ll also tend to say yes to people we perceive as being in a place of authority or as being an expert on the relevant topic.
If you’re reading this post during the Covid-19 lockdown, you’ve experienced the idea of “scarcity” first hand – we want more of what is less available. Think toilet paper, disinfecting wipes and hand sanitizer.
This book will help you to understand yourself and your own motivations while teaching you how to motivate others as well.
Who Moved My Cheese? By Spencer Johnson
At just over 100 pages, this classic book is a quick read and well worth the time for anyone. It’s about handling big changes in life, and it’s a pretty fair bet that if you’re not going through a life change right now, you will be at some point, possibly soon.
Life changes aren’t always predictable – they often smack you over the head with no warning. Most people don’t like change, especially change that happens suddenly and seems to throw every part of your life into turmoil. If you’re reading this post during the Covid-19 crisis, you and your family are probably going through some life changes right now, and this book can help you cope with the fear and anxiety of an uncertain future.
Please note that this article is not intended to take the place of professional medical or therapeutic advice.
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