A few years ago, I was a massive self-help junkie. What started with a crush on a guy that was into meditation and yoga, became a full-fledged love affair not with said guy, but with all things self-development and spirituality. Meditation, yoga and positive affirmations were part of my daily routine. Devouring books on success secrets became my favourite pastime. In these books, I was trying to find an answer. I was searching for that one little nugget of wisdom that would change my life for good. As the years went by, some practices and wisdom stuck, and life became a little better for it. The magic potion for instant success never came though (anyone surprised?!). So, my interest in reading self-help books waned. Over the years I decluttered my living space and many self-help books were exiled to my local charity shop. Yet five books survived the selection process and still grace my shelves to this day. These are books that continue to inspire me and are worth rereading over and over again. If you only ever read five books from the self-help department, these are the ones I suggest.
Big Magic for Creativity
I may have been one of the few people who utterly detested Elizabeth Gilbert’s best-seller Eat Pray Love. The over-sentimental quest for meaning that Gilbert embarked in this autobiographical story seemed self-indulgent and shallow. Big Magic, on the other hand, is a book that surprised me with its gentle approach to creativity. Instead of preaching the idea to give up your job and following your passions, Gilbert offers a much kinder approach to kindling that creative spark in life. In a nutshell, she recommends pursuing your curiosities – in spite of fear -, but without placing too much emphasis on the outcome. The 304 pages in which she nudges you to do so are well worth a read.
Your Money or Your Life for Financial Health
This book is, of course, a classic in the budgeting and personal finance sector. The main message of the book is that financial security means freedom to live a deliberate and meaningful life. Besides explaining the why of good personal finance, the book contains a wealth of practical advice on budgeting, saving and work. Although the book can be a little Americentric (the European tax system works quite differently for example), it is a book that I flip through at least once a year to fine-tune my approach to personal finance.
Who Says You Can’t? You Do for Motivation
Written by yet another millennial lifestyle entrepreneur Daniel Chidiac, this book can easily be mistaken for yet another book that sells empty promises to gullible people. What I found refreshing in Chidiac’s book is that it doesn’t preach miracles, but instead praises good ol’ fashioned hard work. The book is fluffed up with inspirational quotes, but beneath the façade of selling the American Dream, lie some down-to-earth practical steps to achieving your goals. Whenever I approach a daunting new project in life or feel stuck in my direction, I come to this book to find a little boost off motivation.
A New Earth for Spirituality
Eckhart Tolle is probably the most well-known spiritual teacher of our generation. His book The Power of Now is a powerful testament to the benefits of meditation and mindfulness. As the best way to learn about meditation is meditating, A New Earth offers a more insightful look into the world of spirituality. Unlike the other books in this list, A New Earth does not contain practical tips and advice. Rather, it takes the reader on a spiritual journey that is both inspiring and deeply insightful. Considering I have reread the book front to back three times already, it is clear to say it holds some wisdom that stands the test of time.
The Gifts of Imperfection for Living Life
I love the concept of grace and apply it rigorously to my life. In this book Bene Brown capitalises on the concept of grace, sharing her research on living a good life. She found that living well rests on ten tenants. These include cultivating self-compassion, cultivating a mindset of sufficiency and letting go of anxiety as a status symbol. Overall this book will leave you feeling good about being imperfect. The message is loud and clear. Letting go of other people’s expectations will set you free.
As you can see, my favourite self-help books contain practical advice or a gentle approach to living life well. Any books I have read in the past that promised quick fixes, short-term solutions or chewed-on clichés failed to stand the test of time for me. Instead these five gems are books I can return to in the years to come for advice and inspiration on many aspects of my life.
What are you favourite self-help books?