The best self help books ever shouldn’t even be called self help books!
I feel like they dampen the real impact a book has on the reader. If a book played a significant role in changing the way you think about yourself, the way you treat others, the way you look at life, then you will agree with me when I say that the term “self help” does not cut it, but hey, for now, we’ll work with this label.
These are my absolute best self help books because I can remember where in my life I was when I read each book, and I am going to basically weave a story of how I came about each one.
Conversations With God – Neale Donald Walsch
I was 22 when I read Book 2 of this trilogy. I was in university and to tell you the truth, I was a lost child. I had no real direction, I was terribly reactive to almost every comment someone would make that I did not like, and I was racked with guilt and shame over who I was. I was in such deep inner conflict with myself…
Why this is one of the best self help books for me:
Then I came across this book, and it absolutely changed everything for me.
Firstly, it reassured me that I am loved unconditionally by a higher power, and I had no reason to feel guilt or shame for who I was.
Secondly, the book taught me something I had never known before: I create my own reality.
It taught me that I do this via three things: my thought, my word and my deed. Every human being has this ability. No one is exempt. I realized, then and there that every choice I had made, every thought and every word I had ever uttered led me to the life I was living.
The thing about knowing is when you know, you know. And so started my journey of self-awareness and becoming truly conscious of who I am.
This is one of my favourite videos of Neale Donald Walsch on YouTube. Please watch it when you have the time. I promise you will not regret the time you spent!
The Power Of Now – Eckhart Tolle
I picked up this book back in 2006, when I was going through a major slump in my life. My father, who is an ardent reader, had purchased the book. I picked it up because of its interesting title, and an even more interesting name… “Eckhart Tolle”.
The one thing this book taught me which left a lasting mark on me is that each one of us possess energies known as “pain bodies”.
My personal interpretation of pain bodies is that they come in the form of painful, past memories we have experienced throughout our lives, especially childhood. As a result, we carry emotional pain with us that runs consistently through our lives.
Most of us have discovered that a lot of our current problems are rooted in traumatic experiences we went through when we were younger.
Now these pain bodies are either active or dormant in your life, and those that are dormant are more than likely wreaking havoc on your current mental and emotional state of mind.
This book also helped me understand a total novel idea that I was completely unfamiliar with:- observing my thoughts.
I may have read about the power of thought in Conversations With God 2, but as far as I can remember, the book did not go into much detail about a strategy to change your thinking.
Eckhart Tolle suggest that the reader chooses to take a few days to observe the way their thought patterns without judgment.
Simple to read, but not easy at all to implement!
So after reading the book, I embarked on making a point to listen to my thoughts. I did this by using the way I would feel to tap into what my thoughts were that were causing that feeling
….and what I discovered was a barrage of hurtful, abusive and rageful thoughts. It truly shocked me, the things I would tell myself without knowing. No wonder I was in such bad shape!
Again, this is one of the best self help books for me because it also started me on my journey towards thinking better. It has taken a decade for me to see real progress, and I still have a long way to go, but this book saved me from myself and my toxic thoughts.
Here is Eckhart Tolle describing the pain body in a way that you reading this may not like, but is actually the truth.
You Can Change Your Life – Louise L. Hay
What a remarkable book Louise L. Hay wrote back in 1984. I don’t think she realized the impact it would have on millions of souls around the globe, and I am certainly one of those people!
You may dismiss this book because of how “happy” it looks. Even the cover itself might turn off some folks because it looks like a Care Bear wrote it. But back in 2010, it was exactly what I needed to heal my relationship with myself, and most interestingly, my parents.
Back then I was angry with my parents. We had a very volatile relationship. Two years prior, I had quit my job, living with my mom and dad, and it was a very, very bad 2 years. We had the worst arguments, I fell into a depression, and even when I slowly got out of it and decided to focus on art as a career, they never took me seriously, which made was yet another nail secured deeper in the coffin of our relationship or so I thought…
Then in 2010, I got a job. Within the first 6 months of being employed, I moved out of my parents’ house. I left with all my seething anger and resentment towards them, vowing that I didn’t want to have anything to do with them.
But time and absence has a way of soothing old wounds and softening hard heads and hearts… and this Louise’s “You Can Heal Your Life” broke away the last few chains I had that kept me chained in wrath towards my beloved mother and father.
I felt like this book was speaking DIRECTLY into my situation. Louise advises those of us who have a strained relationship with our parents to look at them from a new perspective, and that is that they were children, just like us…
They were innocent little people, just like we were,
They went through tough, even harrowing experiences growing up, that we probably have no idea about…
This exercise encourages you to ask yourself questions like “what about them and what they have been through, and are going through? Does it always have to be about me?”
Louise encourages the reader to have conversations with our parents, to ask them about their childhood, the stories they remember, their most unforgettable encounters, etc.
I took this advice and started visiting my mom and dad. My mother is the more talkative of my parents, so it was much easier asking her questions and getting glimpses into her life. I even started talking to other relatives who know my mother well, like my uncle, her eldest brother.
Their stories changed my perspective of her COMPLETELY.
This exercise made me more empathetic and more compassionate towards both my parents, and because of this, my relationship changed did a complete 180, and has been this way ever since!
Louise also teaches marvelous other lessons, like
- Being kinder to yourself
- Self affirmations
- Mirror work: looking at yourself in the mirror every day and telling yourself “I Love You.” (I must admit this has been nearly impossible for me to do.)
- The power of gratitude.
Now you understand why this book, for me, is one of the best self help books out there: it helped me repair my relationship with my parents, and I am forever thankful to Louise L. Hay for this.
Did you know there is also a movie based on this book? I wouldn’t call it a movie/documentary but it is still really good.
Psycho cybernetics – Dr. Maxwell Maltz
Back in 2011 I started listening to the man who is dubbed the father of motivation, Earl Nightingale. The video clip below is what turned me on to his work, and I have been a fan ever since.
One of his audio clips was about him having lunch with the great Maxwell Maltz. He also spoke briefly about the book he wrote, and naturally, I wanted to get a copy, which I did!
This book made such a big impact in my life that I decided to create a course on Udemy, where the dominant themes of the course are based on Dr Maltz’s teachings.
Dr. Maxwell Maltz was one of the first plastic surgeons of his time in the 1940s.
He started realizing that even though some of his patients received the exact changes they expected physically, those changes did not reflect internally. Some patients still felt the same insecurities as they did before their surgery.
So Dr. Maltz decided to dig deeper into these cases, and what resulted was this remarkable book he wrote in 1960.
Do not be fooled by the age of this book. It can be a century old, but there is no book that tackles the self image like this one does.
The reason it is one of the best self help books out there is because it taught me that one is capable of “architecting” oneself.
It will help you understand what a self-image is, how you created it, and even give you step by step instructions to follow on a daily basis to change it, and thus, transform yourself completely.
This book inspired me to create a course which I published on Udemy. It now has over 4,000 students enrolled in it.
One of the most memorable quotes in this book is:
“A human being always acts and feels and performs in accordance with what he imagines to be true about himself and his environment…For imagination sets the goal ‘picture’ which our automatic mechanism works on. We act, or fail to act, not because of ‘will,’ as is so commonly believed, but because of imagination.”
Do The Work – Steven Pressfield
This is a very underrated book in my opinion. Steven Pressfield in my opinion, is a genius.
When I started my website in 2013, I was thrown into this pit of creation, and I had no idea how bad it was going to be, and even worse, how confused and frustrated the process of creating posts every week would leave me.
Pressfield goes deep into the mind of those of us who identify ourselves as creatives and entrepreneurs to help us understand why the process of creating, making, or building something from the mind to the physical can be mentally and emotionally paralyzing.
He helped me understand the fact that each one of us has a strong adversary lurking within, and the name of this adversary is resistance.
He describes it this way:
“Resistance cannot be seen, touched, heard, or smelled. But it can be felt. We experience it as an energy field radiating from a work-in-potential. It’s a repelling force. It’s negative. Its aim is to shove us away, distract us, prevent us from doing our work.”
Honestly, this book helped me create 120 articles in a few months. It helped me understand that it is about acting, not always thinking, because one will think oneself into total paralysis, and this is why for me, this is one of the best self help books in the world.
The Four Agreements – don Miguel Ruiz
What can I say about this book, other than it is yet another life saver for me. I read it a few months back, April or May of 2017.
This book is what I call a life book. It came into my life exactly when I needed it, because it serves as a manual for my soul, with unforgettable lessons to carry me through the rest of my life.
The premise of this book is that we have all come into this life carrying beliefs that never truly came from us. They were simply passed down from generation to generation.
We have found ourselves making agreements with a lot of the rules of society.
We became domesticated, and began to live by these agreements.
Why? Because we did not want to be ostracized or singled out and deemed us anti-society.
So we did what we were told. We lived according to the expectations of our parents, our teachers, and all other authority based institutions.
Soon, we didn’t need them, for these agreements were formed so deeply in us, they became our identity.
But there are those of us, and there are many, who know that this is not the way to live, that there is more to life.
The only problem is that we are terrified of the idea of changing.
The book presents 4 agreements that, if followed consistently, will lead to ultimate inner peace and personal freedom.
As quoted in the book:
“1. Be Impeccable With Your Word
Speak with integrity. Say only what you mean. Avoid using the word to speak against yourself or to gossip about others. Use the power of your word in the direction of truth and love.
2. Don’t Take Anything Personally
Nothing others do is because of you. What others say and do is a projection of their own reality, their own dream. When you are immune to the opinions and actions of others, you won’t be the victim of needless suffering.
3. Don’t Make Assumptions
Find the courage to ask questions and to express what you really want. Communicate with others as clearly as you can to avoid misunderstandings, sadness and drama. With just this one agreement, you can completely transform your life.
4. Always Do Your Best
Your best is going to change from moment to moment; it will be different when you are healthy as opposed to sick. Under any circumstance, simply do your best, and you will avoid self-judgment, self-abuse and regret.”
These agreements may be simple to read and digest, but they are very challenging to live by.
The idea by these agreements is that you are not supposed to suddenly become a master, but to make the decision to slowly integrate them into your life, and as you think, speak and do whatever it is every single day, that you are guided by these 4 beautiful agreements.
I have the audio version with me and I keep listening to them as often as possible, because these 4 agreements are now the gospel in my personal bible… this is why this book is one of the best self books out there!
Below is a really good summary of this fantastic book!
What books have changed your life? Comment below and share.